Tue., 10:30am: Location set for shale charter school

SALINEVILLE-A charter school geared toward teaching students skills for the oil and gas industry is one step closer to fruition after Southern Local’s Board of Education approved a location for the school Monday night.

The board motioned to enter into an “indemnification and release agreement” with the Jefferson County Educational Service Center (ESC) and the governing authority of the Utica Shale Academy of Ohio that will locate the school on the Southern Local campus.

The ESC and the governing authority of the Utica Shale Academy of Ohio are essentially one in the same, as the ESC is both the “fiscal representative” and “sponsor” of the charter school, explained Superintendent Wilson. Specifically, the agreement says that the charter school will use room F112 of the Southern Local facility. Wilson said the room is not being utilized by the district. He says the shale academy will only be using one room for now, but he hopes to see it grow in the future.

“We’re all about expansion,” said Wilson.

As for the number of students looking to attend the school, Wilson says that will not be known until the website for the academy is up and running. At that time the parents of prospective students can express their interest using the site’s online forum.

Wilson says he does not anticipate there being issues with campus facilities being able to accommodate the academy. In particular, he noted that additional parking added last year for the renovated stadium facility will be able to accommodate the academy’s students.

The board announced last month that the Utica Shale Academy of Ohio will be for grades 9-12 and have a curriculum focusing on skills needed for the oil and gas industry.

The academy will also offer a traditional curriculum as per state requirements. Learning at the academy will be done partially through online learning modules provided by the Jefferson County ESC’s Virtual Learning Academy and through traditional classes.

Jefferson County ESC approved the charter school in December of last year. Wilson says he expects the charter for the academy to be written by the end of this month and for the school to be open by mid-September of this year.