Shale Academy keeps adding services

SALINEVILLE — The Utica Shale Academy continues to expand its services, making agreements with other entities to continue training people in the area for more of the jobs available.

The school will have a NC3 National Signing Day celebratory event on April 14 for those students preparing to sign up for continuing training or a career. During Monday’s meeting, USA Superintendent Bill Watson said the group will celebrate the day with food catered by the Spread Eagle Tavern and an event filmed, edited and streamed nationally.

Watson said the school hopes 45 to 50 people attend the event.

The event is just one of the ways the USA is looking to get their students not just to recover credits and graduate, but to go forward with a career or more training in the future.

The USA recently announced an agreement with Youngstown State University, which will allow students attending classes at the Utica Shale Academy to take utilize the YSU Skills Accelerator. The computer based program will allow students to learn new skills such as the masters program in 3-D printing.

Additionally, Watson announced the school is working on an agreement with the Columbiana County Jail, where those inmates 22 and older, who have no high school diploma or GED can earn some credits through the USA. Additionally, Watson said they will be looking at providing industry credentials in welding, practicing with the virtual welders. Other programs are being considered. Sign ups will begin in mid-May for the program.

Following their release, the students could continue learning and earning credits and skills by attending some evening programming through the USA and the YSU Skills Accelerator program without having to travel to the actual school.

“The goal is to eliminate the road block of transportation,” Watson said after Monday’s meeting. “Everybody is hiring, so we’ve got to get them trained here.”

The USA is preparing to build an indoor and outdoor welding lab, as well as a facility to store heavy equipment, like the fork lift recently donated to the school by Energy Harbor. The 4-wheel drive machine is capable of lifting 18,000 pounds. Instructors at the USA are already trained in operation and teaching the equipment, Watson said, they only needed the equipment.

In preparation of building the welding labs, Watson asked the board to approve having an architectural firm make drawings of what they want to do with an agreed timeline of when it will be completed.

Additionally, Watson said they recently learned it was going to cost $175,000 to run a natural gas line to the new facility. He told the board they are looking instead for a natural gas tank and a supplier.

In another partnership, Watson said the school recently gave its first class at the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center in Salem in AC/DC Electric with plans to offer the class again this summer.

Finally, in the last few weeks Watson said he, Robert Mehno, Treasurer Robert Barrett and their connections with YSU met with State Rep. Tim Ginter and State Senator Michael Rulli about funding concerns for Career Tech programs. He hopes there will be $25 million placed into the state funds to fund career tech programs 100 percent.

In other matters:

— The board approved a five-year renewal of the virtual learning agreement with Jefferson County Educational Service Center to continue providing computer graded courses for the USA’s general curriculum.

— The board approved the new calendar for the 2022-2023 school year, which will more closely align with Southern Local’s calendar. Watson said that will help the school with transportation and cafeteria options for students.



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