State’s first online technical education high school to be based in McFarland district

Doug Erickson:

Leaders of a new online public charter high school in Wisconsin say its focus on career and technical education will help train students for high-paying jobs in fields that desperately need workers, such as construction.

The school, announced in Madison on Wednesday, is to begin offering classes this fall. It will be called Destinations Career Academy of Wisconsin and will be based in the McFarland School District, which already authorizes another online school, Wisconsin Virtual Academy.

According to the new school’s founders, students will be able to get a head start on careers by earning technical and specialty trade credentials and college credits along with their high school diplomas. The venture will be Wisconsin’s first career and technical education online school and potentially a national prototype, said Terry McGowan, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139.

“Everyone’s watching us,” McGowan said.

The Wisconsin labor union, based in Pewaukee, is a partner in the effort along with Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton and the McFarland School District. The virtual school will use the digital curriculum and academic services of K12 Inc., a for-profit education company based in Herndon, Virginia. The company also provides the curriculum for Wisconsin Virtual Academy.

The new high school will offer career pathways in four clusters: architecture and construction; business, management and administration; health science; and information technology. Students in grades 9-12 will be able to earn dual credits through Fox Valley Technical College, said Nicholaus Sutherland, who will be the new venture’s head of school. He serves in the same capacity for Wisconsin Virtual Academy.

Madison’s $17k/year government schools lack such diverse options. The most recent attempt to change this was rejected by a majority of the School Board.