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School board approves CTE virtual center grant proposal

During Monday’s meeting, the West Fargo School Board unanimously approved a grant proposal for a Career and Technical Education (CTE) virtual center to be used — and purchased — by West Fargo Public Schools, Fargo Public Schools and the Northern Cass Public School District.

As reported by secondary assistant superintendent Allan Burgad, the past decade’s economic expansion in Cass County has created both low unemployment rates and a shortage of skilled workers in the area, and there will continue to be a shortage of skilled workers in the areas of advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and computer information systems in the foreseeable future. Energy and aviation career groups have also grown, creating opportunities for both wage-earning and salaried workers.

The proposed program would provide courses for six area high schools: West Fargo, Sheyenne, Fargo North, Fargo South, Fargo Davies and Northern Cass.

According to Burgad, the overall purpose of a shared center is to offer CTE programs to more students, along with sharing costs with other school districts.

The proposal calls for the hiring of a new CTE director, a position that would be shared in equal thirds by the school districts, which will “open doors” for more shared programs and shared cost, according to Burgad.

Business manager Mark Lemer informed the board that the district is currently receiving the lowest possible reimbursement rate from the state for the costs of its CTE program, and referred to this grant proposal at “perfect timing” for West Fargo Public Schools.

During the first two years of the new program, the district would be reimbursed at 75 percent. The next three years would see a 60 percent reimbursement rate, and 40 percent after that point — still an improvement over the district’s current rate.

“We built a school and facility to increase opportunities in Career and Tech Ed,” superintendent David Flowers said. “This is a way of being able to pay for that as we ramp up… It is a wonderful incentive to do it day one.”

Total funds received in the first year of grant participation for the three districts are $429,900.00 with total costs for the three districts at $143,300.