Dickinson Public Schools and Dickinson State University have discussed tentative plans for a new career and technical education building on DSU's campus, should the governor's proposal providing matching state funds for two CTE buildings in the state come to fruition and should one of the two grants be awarded to Dickinson.
Sen. Rich Wardner explained the proposal.
"(The governor's) got $30 million set aside for career and tech," he said. "It would be a match with the local community. In our case, it would be with Dickinson Public Schools. This would help them in building their career and tech, but it would also be open to post-secondary. It would be about $15 million that would go to help construct that."
If the proposal passes and Dickinson is given the grant, the district and DSU would consider constructing the building on the university's campus.
"The original thought was the building could be placed on the rodeo grounds where they were originally thinking of putting the Teddy Roosevelt library ... directly in between the high school and the university," said DSU President Thomas Mitzel.
In that case, the school would likely remove its technical education section from the new building plans, as the district's students would be able to use the building at DSU.
"We've already had those conversations enough with our architect and with our design team that if indeed we did get the grant, it would not be a big setback to us for redesigning purposes," said Superintendent Shon Hocker. "It's been designed that we could essentially remove those from the school project by that time."
Such a decision could save the school district money on its proposed new building.
"We're asking for x on the bond, but if that grant were to be awarded to us, we would promise not to have to utilize that full bond," Hocker said. "We would be able to reduce the taxes accordingly the next year and not have to ask for so much money."
Mitzel said the decision would be beneficial to DSU, as well, which is working on expanding its two-year programs and certifications to better meet the workforce training needs of the community.
"We are right now meeting with a committee that is a mix of our staff, our faculty, our students and community members-many of them from the manufacturing group-working on programs that we can offer to them through dual-mission that will allow either to bring workers into their particular industry quickly or allow their workers who are in their industry to move up the scale," he said.
Wardner said that the creation of the proposed career and tech ed buildings would address the state's workforce challenges.
"The whole state is looking for individuals who have these career and tech skills. ... It is hard to recruit people in to North Dakota," he said. "We have a workforce shortage. This career and tech will be one of the ways we can solve that problem."
Wardner said he thinks the proposal has a good chance of passing.
"We gotta make sure we've got the money," he said. "We gotta make sure we can do it. We do balance our budget here in this state. We don't spend money we don't have. To me, it's a high priority ... so I'd like to think the chances are 80 percent to 90 percent happening."
As far as the western location, Wardner said he thinks Dickinson has a chance.
"I do because we're one of the bigger communities," he said. "We have a bigger population. There are other communities in the west, but as far as having the number of students, we would have the most. But remember, we've got a lot of the small schools around us that could take advantage of this."
Both Hocker and Mitzel have stressed that their talks are preliminary, and Hocker said they're not going to bank on getting the grant.
"We need to make sure we don't throw all our eggs in the basket and say we can design and build the school without it and assume we're going to get this grant," Hocker said. "That would be a huge mistake."