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Work continues at the new Shale Academy building

SALINEVILLE — The Utica Shale Academy board met Tuesday in the building they hope will be their new location next school year, the Hutson Building in downtown Salineville.

Much of the Amatrol equipment the school uses to train students in industrial trades is already lining the open upstairs room as the school is beginning to move into the building. Plans are in place for a wall to display the industrial credentials Shale students earn throughout next year. Currently students can obtain up to 42 micro industry credentials, but with future grant money the school hopes to be able to offer 68 credential points.

Additionally, Superintendent Bill Watson said they hope to hear they have obtained an Equity Grant in the next two weeks and if that happens plans are in place to place 24 welding stations in the downstairs of the building. Currently there is a large vault built in the middle of a room downstairs and Watson asked the board to approve removal of some of the vault with the rest converted to a safe place to house the gases needed to operate the welding machines.

If all goes well, the USA will be able to teach basic welding, as well as more complicated skills such as bend tested and pipe welding.

Watson told the board that he had spoken to the Southern Local Schools, who own the building that will be used by USA and they are willing to defray the cost of upgrading the electricity for the equipment at a cost of $180,000 and pay for the removal of the vault, which was quoted as a worst-case scenario as $19,000.

“The building certainly looks good so far,” said Board President Karl Blissenbach, “certainly a lot of sweat equity from the Shale staff.”

While they cannot accept new students for the summer, Watson said they are working hard to help current students get caught up as so many have fallen behind in credits due to the pandemic affecting school the last year and a half.

Amatrol training for current students is scheduled to begin soon as the school plans to help about 44 students who need to catch up in order to stay on track to graduate. Additionally, the board approved extending the summer learning and wellness program for students through June, into July and then August.

With 32 students graduating, the school currently has 51 remaining students. Watson said he would like to see the school get back to a four-year graduation rate of at least 75 percent.

In other matters:

— The board approved a renewal of Bob Barrett’s contract as fiscal officer and treasurer for the school at the same salary, but agreeing to pick up his share of his School Employees Retirement System contribution.

— The school approved a final financial balance of $821,396 with an increase to $1,276,091 for next school year. The projected balance anticipates some grant funding and for enrollment to remain high.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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