Shale academy positive for area

The Utica Shale Academy of Ohio is one step closer to coming to fruition.

Recently, the first meeting of the Utica Shale Academy Governing Board took place, with William Pitts of Salineville, a 16-year former member of the Southern Local Board of Education, elected as president, and Mark Furda of Franciscan University of Steubenville elected vice president.

Also serving on the new governing board are Charles Joyce of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Larry Mayle of Howard Hanna Premier Real Estate of Toronto and Christina Wanat of Eastern Gateway Community College.

The area is buzzing with the recent announcement of a local academy offering an education to local high school students interested in future careers in the oil and gas industry.

Sponsored by the Jefferson County Education Service Center, the USA community school will be located in a room in the Southern Local High School in Salineville.

This new school, along with the Providing Opportunities with Extraordinary Results program in the Carrollton Exempted Village School District, would not be possible without funding from the state. The P.O.W.E.R. project which sits smack in the middle of the Buckeye State’s hydraulic fracturing boom, will improve opportunities for students in the energy field.

And let’s not forget, there’s an apprenticeship training program already in place at Eastern Gateway Community College and West Virginia Northern Community College, so many administrators and business leaders are looking down the road to the future.

We remind readers again to think about this situation unfolding in front of us. Students in grades nine through 12 will be eligible to enroll in this conversion school, and frankly it just makes sense, given our area’s proximity to the developing oil and gas industry.

It’s a given this school will be a boon to our communities to offer specialized education to students who are interested in working in those fields – career fields that quite possibly will be our region’s biggest employers for decades to come.

The ESC and the home school will provide a curriculum of common core subjects, and a vendor will be used to provide the specialized subject curriculum. The end result will be graduates who will be certified in these trades – a bonus for all of us.

Officials have set a goal to open the school next fall and operate it using a regular school calendar for at least 25 students with the interest in learning all there is to learn about the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in the Tri-State Area.

Our economy and educational opportunities locally are growing. What’s not to like about that?