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District launches collaborative career tech. ed. center

Dr. David Flowers, Superintendent, West Fargo Public Schools

Wouldn’t it be great if students in our area had access to new career and technical education opportunities, ones that align with the types of great careers available right here in our own community?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if school districts like Fargo and West Fargo did more together, rather than in isolation and duplication? What if in so doing they also used tax dollars more efficiently? Would it be great to see students in a district that does not have certain career and technical education programs able to get access to those programs? Yes! And these things will all be possible now, thanks to a new effort on the part of area school districts.

 West Fargo Public Schools, Fargo Public Schools and Northern Cass Public Schools recently applied for a grant with the state to create a virtual Career Tech Ed Center, and it has been approved. The districts will share a director, which will save dollars, because all three districts now have CTE programs that require some level of administration. One position will coordinate the program across the districts and potentially expand to other districts in the future. In addition, because the districts are collaborating, the state pays a higher percentage of the costs for startup of new career and technical education programs than would be paid if the districts were not combining their efforts. Thus, there is a bigger bang for the buck. Initially sharing teaching staff and programs will be limited, but there is great potential to grow in that respect in the future.

West Fargo Public Schools has or will be adding programs over the next couple of years in aviation, CISCO networking, diesel mechanics and health careers, just to name a few. These are in addition to business education courses, building trades and small engines, which are exemplary and recognized programs already established in the district. Other programs available in the area include automotive technology, welding, automated manufacturing and agriculture. A number of these programs articulate very well with two-year college degree programs in the area such as those offered by NDSCS in Wahpeton, and we are excited to enhance our collaboration with those programs in the future.

Some courses may be able to be made available virtually, or through a hybrid model where a portion is delivered virtually and a portion would be on-site in the district. There is great potential for new and exciting opportunities for students in the area. This potential would not be possible had our three districts not launched this platform upon which we can now build in the future. We appreciate our opportunities to collaborate with the other school districts in the region, and this is a shining example of the potential in working together. In the end, it will be our students who are the benefactors. If it spends taxpayer dollars more effectively also, so much the better.