The first steps toward the Utica Shale Academy of Ohio have been taken, thanks to the Jefferson County Education Service Center.
The ESC's sponsorship of the new academy means an education for local high school students interested in future careers in the oil and gas industry.
Of course, this schooling and 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 in the Carrollton district, which sits in the middle of the Buckeye State's hydraulic fracturing boom, will improve opportunities for students in the energy field.
Ohio Cyber Academy officials recently discussed the shale schooling with ESC board members, and we now know the shale academy will be operated by the Southern Local School District in southern Columbiana County.
It's at that site that the conversion community school will offer students a regular curriculum as well as an alternative educational program in oil and gas.
Think about this - students in grades nine through 12 will be eligible to enroll in the conversion school, which authorities say will be located at one of the Southern Local School District's facilities. It just makes sense given our area's proximity to the developing oil and gas industry, and it's a boon to our communities to offer specialized education to our students who are interested in working in those fields following high school - 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 certificated 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.
It's another example of the increased economic and education opportunities we've been promised would come to our area as part of the oil and gas industry.