Legacy funds may be used for technical education, state Sen. Wardner says

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During a meeting with The Press, state Sen. Rich Wardner indicated that the state government is considering allocating portions of the legacy fund for career and technical education across the state.

“We can use some of those resources from the legacy earnings to invest in career academies. It could be in programming; it could be in equipment; it could be in bricks and mortar,” he said.

Gov. Doug Burgum, also present, said that he and Wardner are committed to bringing technical education throughout the state and pointed toward the partnership of Bismarck Public Schools and Bismarck State College as an example.

“Senator Wardner and I have been advocating this last session and will be advocating it again this go around, but we need to make sure that we’re providing those kinds of opportunities statewide,” Burgum said.

He would like to see a partnership between K-12 schools, higher education and the private sector.

Wardner pointed out that Dickinson State University is a recently designated dual-mission institution, which gives the university some flexibility in programming to accommodate the needs of its community, such as providing technical education programs.

“I think it’s not only critical for Dickinson; it’s critical for the whole state. … Believe me, it’s going to be huge in the state. You wait and see,” Wardner said.

Burgum stressed the need for more technical education statewide to offset the workforce shortage.

“We’re the proving ground for UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) in the country, and then we don’t have the CTE programs in Grand Forks for students that want to go in that, so that’s a big gap,” he said.

Wardner will be in Watford City on Feb. 19 and 20 to get input from the community as to how money in the state’s burgeoning Legacy Fund should be spent.

In addition to providing more technical education to combat the workforce shortage, Burgum indicated that the state government might take a look at reciprocity of licensingfor careers that are in high-demand, such as nursing.

“If you’re a nurse in Minnesota, you can’t work in North Dakota,” he said. “Well, if you’ve worked at the Mayo Clinic, I think you can probably say you’d be OK to work here. … Hopefully we can make some progress on that front, because that could be super helpful. We do not graduate enough students out of the combination of programs and colleges to come anywhere near filling that need.”

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