RUPERT— Minidoka County School District’s board of trustees approved a second charter school geared toward industrial classes that provide certifications to students.
The new charter school will benefit schools across the Magic Valley and was driven in part by Magic Valley industries clamoring for workers.
The new charter school, Advanced Regional Technical Education Coalition Industrial (ARTEC-I) Regional Professional Technical (RPT) Charter School will split from the current ARTEC RPT school, sponsored by Minidoka County School District.
The reasons for the split are twofold, Ken Cox, superintendent at the district, said. The current charter school has exceeded the number of students the state will reimburse it for and industry demand for industrial courses is increasing.
The new charter school will better meet the needs of the high schools, the College of Southern Idaho, students and parents, he said.
The original ARTEC charter school provides funds to Magic Valley schools to support the added costs of the advanced courses offered, Cox said.
The expansion will occur over the next couple of years.
ARTEC Principal Andy Wiseman said for the past several years the charter school has “maxed out” its enrollment allowed by the charter.
Creating a second charter school will essentially double the funding received by the state, Andy Wiseman, principal of ARTEC said. ARTEC has a budget of $1 million, which includes some grant funds. Last year the charter school received $179,000 in grants.
“We are currently at the stage of awaiting final approval from the State Department of Education, and preparing applications to send out to all the public and private high schools in the Magic Valley to determine which programs should be included in one of the two regional technical charter schools,” Wiseman said.
In the fall they expect to have between 100 and 200 students enrolled in the new charter school, he said.
“ARTEC has been an asset in providing expanded opportunities for Magic Valley students who are interested in career technical education courses and careers,” Dale Lane, Jerome School District superintendent, said in the release. “I anticipate the expansion of ARTEC impacting more students in a positive manner.”
ARTEC RPT has 420 part-time students in nine high schools in the Magic Valley including Minico High School, Cassia Regional Technical Center, Buhl High School, Canyon Ridge High School, Dietrich High School, Gooding High School, Jerome High School, Kimberly High School and Twin Falls High School.
“This is an exciting time for ARTEC. This expansion will allow us to better serve our students and local industry,” Michael Arrington, ARTEC board chairman said in a press release.
ARTEC programs include automotive repair, health occupations, electronics, construction, auto collision repair, cabinetry, information technology, finance and diesel repair.
Wiseman said the charter schools allow students to try out careers, sometimes through internships, and helps companies fill employee gaps.
The charter school essentially leases the teachers for the charter school to teach the program courses, which allows the school districts to use that salary money to hire more teachers, Wiseman said.
“It frees up some of their dollars,” Wiseman said.
The only downside to the new charter is more paperwork, he said.
The charter school’s board meets in Twin Falls and has representatives from business, the College of Southern Idaho and school superintendents.
Some of the courses for the new school that may be considered in the next few months are Industrial Maintenance and Operations, an apprenticeship program offered at Minico High School, welding fabrication available at many high schools across the Magic Valley, culinary and food science courses, small engines, engineering and others.
Culinary and food science courses are needed due to the increased demand in the area.
Schools, teacher, businesses and parents are encouraged to reach out to Wiseman via email with course suggestions to Wiseman@csi.edu.