• October 1st is a significant day for MCPSD #1.  On October 1st, 2021 the school district submitted its grant application to the North Dakota Department of Career and Technical Education for support of the Bakken Area Skills Center.  The grant is requesting a $10 million state contribution to the $20 million project to bring a workforce skills facility to our community and impact K-12 students, post-secondary students, employers, and general population interested in skills related to employment or general enjoyment.  The vision and value of such a facility has been discussed at various levels for several years driven by the need for ongoing and consistent workforce training opportunities as well as expanding on career and technical education for students and preparing youth for meaning and viable careers after high school or college.  The lack of such offerings has been a challenge in our region, before and amidst the energy boom, and this opportunity looks to change that dynamic and provide more training and employment skills to our youth and adult populations.  The grant is on behalf of the school district, however, this was a community project and one that will benefit a significant number of students and adults across the entire northwest region of our state.

    The Bakken Area Skills Center, if approved in the grant application submission, will be located in the Fox Hills Development of Watford City to provide easy access for high school students as well as provide adequate space for a variety of workforce programs through Williston State College, TrainND and more.  Watford City represents the largest community in North Dakota without a physical, post-secondary presence available; this Center will help fill the gap that is often met in other communities with colleges or trade schools in their immediate areas.  This grant application was also made possible by the collaborative nature that has brought so many benefits to our community and County in working through the process of becoming the largest population growth County over the last 10 years according to the 2020 census.  County and city contributions to the project were vital to meet the local match required in the grant; other community service groups also rose to the occasion and donated to the grant application effort.  The school district has worked with energy industry partners for several years as part of the Workforce Skills initiative and were asked to contribute to this project and the overall workforce needs in our area for current and future generations.  We are pleased with the support of our local industry partners, in particular, with OneOK and its donation of $1 million to the project. 

    What can we expect with this new facility, if the grant is awarded?  Students will have access to emerging technologies and workforce skills as provided by local companies and to expose students to the careers available in our area.  To meet the ever-changing workforce needs in our region, we need to ensure young adults have opportunities to stay in our communities with the skills ready to contribute to their employer and the general community.  Quality of life and the ability to adjust and pivot with economic changes in our area is the intended outcome of this facility and the creation of a new CTE center in NW North Dakota.  The facility is designed to be flexible as workforce inevitability changes over time and provide space for a variety of skills to be performed at a high level.  From high school students, college students, young adults still searching for their employment goals, or adults looking to change their current employment the Bakken Area Skills Center will provide a resource to a variety of learners at any age level.

    What is next?  As we await the outcome of the grant, we are still in need of additional support and opportunities to partner in this project and to address workforce needs at all levels in our community.  If you are interested in participating in this project at any level, please reach out to our District Office for information on how you can be part of this new and exciting opportunity.  The vision for this facility and its programs is to make an immediate impact on our students, adults, and employers in a significant way.  Thank you for all those that supported the grant application and for the collaboration necessary to make this successful in the future.  The school district looks forward to working with everyone on making this successful and to ensure it is an asset to our community and this region of the state for decades to come.