Community school to focus on the oil, gas industries

SALINEVILLE – The Southern Local Board of Education recently moved forward with plans to establish and operate a gas- and oil-oriented community school – also known as a charter school – by approving a preliminary agreement with Jefferson County Educational Service Center.

Southern Local Superintendent John Wilson laid out his vision, noting the school will be geared toward preparing students for careers in the gas and oil industry, but also will offer a traditional curriculum as per state requirements.

The school will be open enrollment for students grades ninth through 12th, and most of the studies will be through online modules, said Wilson. He noted teachers also will be onsite at the community school to provide guided instruction in conjunction with the students’ online learning. Wilson emphasized that plans for the school are still in the early phases, and the charter for the school is not yet complete.

“This is a preliminary contract to get the ball rolling on developing curriculum, a location and what the school would look like with Jefferson County ESC,” said Wilson. “(Jefferson County ESC Superintendent) George Ash will have more information for us here in the near future on the exact charter as it’s being written. It’s not finished yet, and I didn’t want to comment on something that’s not done.”

The community school is the brainchild of Wilson and Ash. Both men were looking for ways to prepare students for careers in the gas and oil industry that has developed heavily in both of their school districts in recent years. A charter for the school was obtained by Ash and the two set to work.

The Jefferson County ESC granted its approval to the proposed community school last month.

Wilson said the charter for the school must be completed by the end of February and the school must be open and operating by mid-September of this year. He said the school will be located in Columbiana County, but the board has not yet decided on an exact location.

As for the name of the school, Wilson said the tentative name for the school is the Utica Shale Academy of Ohio or U.S.A of Ohio.