Western Dakota Tech becomes first tech school to form local education agency
RAPID CITY, S.D. — For years, Western Dakota Tech has been under the Rapid City Area School Board.
All technical institutes in the state operate under local school boards, which oversee budget and management. Friday, The South Dakota Board of Technical Education held a special hearing to address a petition presented by Western Dakota Tech.
The petition was a request for WDT to become its own local education agency. The board unanimously approved the petition, making WDT the first technical institute in the state to operate independently.
Although WDT is grateful that RCAS was their host for nearly 30 years, there were limitations. With being under a K-12 school board, people from outside of Rapid City could not run for a seat on the board.
WDT students come from all over the Black Hills.
“Its been really difficult for people who are interested in Technical Education because they are industry experts or leaders in the area to feel like they could have a part in the governance without having to go through the whole election process,” said Ann Bolman, the President of Western Dakota Tech.
The separation allows them to have their own board, which will focus solely on WDT. While it will be operating independently, it won’t change the joint projects between RCAS and WDT. Students will still be able to participate in duel enrollment and The Pathways Program will still include WDT.
“This thing is not in any way shape or form something we needed to hand off to somebody else because there were problems, because there aren’t,” said Mike Roesler, the President of the RCAS Board of Education. “Western Dakota Tech is a very very healthy organization. They really deserve to have their own board of trustees working for them.”
With a board dedicated solely to WDT, the institute believes it will strengthen the school and its operations.