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NIACC gets $1 million state grant toward Charles City career academy

By Bob Steenson,

A planned high school career academy to be built near Charles City at the Floyd County fairgrounds got a big boost Monday with the announcement of a $1 million grant from the Iowa Department of Education.

The department and the governor’s office announced that four competitive $1 million grants had been awarded through the state Career Academy Incentive Fund “to prepare more high school students for success in college, postsecondary training and the workforce.”

NIACC gets $1 million state grant toward Charles City career academyOne of the grants was awarded to North Iowa Area Community College, which will use the money toward creating the new Charles City facility. It is NIACC’s second incentive fund grant, having used the first one to help establish the John V. Hanson Career Center in Forest City.

“NIACC will establish a new regional center in Charles City to serve students from seven school districts in north central Iowa,” the announcement said.

Charles City School District and NIACC announced a year ago the proposal to create the local career center, and the Charles City Board of Education approved a memorandum of understanding with the community college.

The seven area high schools that have committed to supporting the Charles City-based career academy are Charles City, Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock, Osage, Riceville, North Butler, Nashua-Plainfield and Clarksville.

The targeted workforce development areas are advanced manufacturing, construction, health care and information technology.

The seven school districts agree to support the construction of the center, commit to using partnership funds to purchase equipment to be used at the center, recruit students and assist them in registering for programs and commit funding to support the sustainability of the facility and enhance programs.

Each school district will be eligible for a certain number of seats for each program, based on a percentage of the overall enrollment of each school district

The other three community colleges to also receive $1 million grants are Des Moines Area Community College, Iowa Lakes Community College and Iowa Western Community College.

“These innovative partnerships are vital to introducing more students to high-demand fields in programs where they can earn industry-recognized credentials and college credit,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo.

“The new regional centers will help more students leave high school prepared for the workforce or ready for further postsecondary education, and I am thankful to these community college and school district leaders for their dedication to expanding career academy opportunities.”

The Career Academy Incentive Fund was established by a 2019 law that extends a statewide penny sales tax for school infrastructure, called Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE), through January 2051.

Expanding student access to high-quality career and technical education is part of the Future Ready Iowa initiative, which is focused on growing a skilled workforce in all regions of the state by connecting more Iowans to the education and training needed for high-demand careers, according to a press release from the state.

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