The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 22, 2013

Tight timeline for Technical Academies

Waldorf Technical Academy is supposed to open in the fall



Funding needed

Little said the hope is to raise $250,000 in corporate sponsorships, private donations and grants by May in order to open in the fall of this year. She said the funds are needed for curriculum, development, recruitment and hiring staff, among various other things. The ability to open will depend on securing the funding, she said.

Matt Chmielewski, vice president of Pioneer Bank in Mankato and treasurer of the Technical Academies board, didn’t return phone calls regarding funding questions. But Ryan Riebel, consultant for The Design Shop of Mankato, who recently came on board to help with fundraising for Technical Academies, said the group had about $5,000 before a recent pancake fundraiser, which added an additional $2,700 to the total.

Little and Thomas invited Riebel to attend the academies’ board meetings, and a couple of weeks ago he took a tour of New Country School, which Technical Academies, in large part, is being modeled after.

“(I) just fell in love with it,” said Riebel, who has a diverse teaching background in countries such as India and Nepal. “I’m more of a proponent of project-based and experiential learning. ... I was happily surprised.”

Riebel said there’s a need in Minnesota for these kinds of charter schools that he believes follow the European school model of experiential learning that instill “applicable skills to the work force.”

Riebel has been asked to be on the advisory council, and he said he’s taking time first to learn about each organization involved and learning where he can best be of assistance. He’s also concerned about the fundraising goal.

“It’s a tough order — $250,000 in a month,” he said. “Realistically, it’s going to be so hard and so stressful to try and push through for fall 2013. Could it still happen? Yeah, we have capable people.”

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