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

(Continued)

WALDORF —

But Riebel said if he was a “betting man,” the schools won’t open until fall 2014.

Riebel said he’s had some experience with start-ups, and his concern is that important elements will be overlooked when starting this quickly.

“When you try to start something so fast and go so quick out of the gates, a lot of times you tend to burn out quick,” he said.

Thomas said a federal grant the group is applying for could result in $225,000 in funding if approved. Wedl said that funding would take away the biggest roadblock of the Waldorf school opening this fall, adding that the business community has yet to step up in a major way to support the schools.

“We had hoped that the southern Minnesota business community would have stepped forward,” he said. “... We haven’t seen that yet.”

Proponents: schools needed

Technical Academies’ model is to replicate Minnesota New Country School, while adding career- and college-readiness programs.

Students will be required to participate in programs such as Post-Secondary Enrollment Options, internships or certification programs before graduation, among other things. Through dual-credit high school/college programs, some will be able to complete an associate’s degree before high school graduation, Wedl said.

“I think this kind of a model is going to be very, very attractive for lots of students,” Wedl said, pointing to the high cost of a college education today.

Little said Technical Academies is forming relationships with people from the business sector as well as post-secondary institutions. Little hopes the charter schools’ partners will mentor students, provide opportunities for internships and certification training, give tours, and help students identify career pathways into their fields of choice.

It’s unclear which businesses are on board at this stage in the process.

Part of the vision also is to include dual-credit options with area community colleges. Little said she has been in contact with someone at SCC and also Minnesota State University.

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