I hope everyone has had a great summer! As we approach the 2023-2024 school year we begin to look ahead to the many exciting changes, both known and unknown at this point, ahead for the McKenzie County Public School District #1. Perhaps the most exciting and anticipated of those changes is the Bakken Area Skills Center. At the June 26th North Dakota State Career and Technical Education Board meeting, the Bakken Area Skills Center (BASC) received full approval of the Joint Powers Agreement including 10 area school districts and corresponding recognition as a North Dakota Regional Career and Technical Center. This milestone is significant as it is the official beginning of the Bakken Area Skills Center regional CTE Center as 2023-2024 becomes the BASC’s first year of offering classes and services to its member school districts. A process and concept that has been discussed, at various levels, for many years has finally become a reality.
The BASC will offer virtual classes to start the 2023-2024 as well as launching remote curriculum programming options involving the current Corp of Discovery High Tech Consortium as well as newly developed mobile trailer units focused on meat production and automation. This initial launch year will explore several options as the facility itself is scheduled to be completed in December 2023 and begin classes in January 2024. Watford City High School students, along with all member school district students, will begin to see the benefits of the pathways developed through the BASC and the curriculum created in coordination with industry partners and area post-secondary institutions. The BASC was created to bring synergy to the relationships between K-12 education, post-secondary, TrainND, and workforce partners to ensure students, or adult learners, have the skill sets and training to be successful in securing and maintaining employment in our region. Workforce remains the key component for current and future economic development in our region, which directly correlates to the overall quality of life for our current and future citizens. The BASC is a targeted strategy to address this issue head-on and ensure students and adults learners have the option to stay in our communities and adapt to changes in the workforce over the next several years/decades.
While the focus will be skilled trades for the BASC initially, the vision is to also expose students to immerging and future technologies to challenge students and provide opportunities for our community to be cutting-edge and innovative as it relates to the future employment needs in our area. The BASC will focus on providing educational opportunities as part of a degree program or certifications, which can be utilized immediately and allow for further educational growth to take place while employed. The BASC will have a core focus on energy development and related trades, however, it will also provide classes involving aviation (UAS) and other STEM related curriculum. The ability to be flexible and nimble to the workforce needs of our community is the core vision of the BASC by ensuring relevance and capability of meeting the workforce needs of today and tomorrow.
How will we know the BASC is successful? In the short term, we envision success as witnessing students receiving hands-on educational experiences while in high school and alignment to high-quality employment after graduation. Students will also possess the skill sets to allow them to further their employment opportunities through additional training/education supported by their employers and to receive that training in our community. The BASC will hopefully provide relevance to our students and their educational pursuits by exposing them directly to the employers to which they will be applying at some point in their future. It is often difficult for high school seniors to understand what is ahead of them and their employment lives; the goal of the BASC is to provide confidence and clear options for students to avoid the uncertainty and confusion often associated with their education/employment lives after high school. The BASC will hopefully improve the lives of students and families in our community, as well as the NW region of ND, but providing these opportunities and direction.
We hope to look back at this initial year of the BASC as a significant milestone for our community and our students and families. We will be promoting and expanding those opportunities as the facility is completed and available, not only to our high school students, but to the community and the many roles the BASC can play to improve the lives of our citizens and growing community.
Looking forward to the 2023-24 school year!