Wisconsin Online Career, Technical School Debuts

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Online high school Destinations Career Academy of Wisconsin, WIDCA, with a focus on career and technical education, was recently launched through a partnership between Fox Valley Technical College, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, the McFarland School District and K12.  It is the first school of its type in the state.

WIDCA “is a tuition-free online public charter school open to students statewide in grades 9-12,” according to a news release. “The school will serve full-time students as well as offer individual courses to students in schools that do not have access to CTE programs. The school is now accepting open enrollments.”

Leaders of the school say its focus on career and technical education will help students train for high-paying positions in popular fields that are in great need of skilled workers, such as construction.

Students who participate in the pre-apprenticeship program have the opportunity to begin their career education early on by earning college credit, workplace experience, and industry certifications, in addition to technical and specialty trade credentials.  Students in grades 9 – 12 will be able to earn dual credits through Fox Valley Technical College, writes Doug Erickson for The Wisconsin State Journal.

There are a number of versions of core high school classes available to students, who can enroll either full or part time.  CTE courses and the four Wisconsin career clusters are also offered, including architecture and construction; business, management, and administration; health science; and information technology, writes Joshua Bolkan for The Journal.

The release also discusses the Operating Engineers program in the Construction Pathway, which is offered through a partnership between the Operating Engineers and Fox Valley Technical College.  The offering gives students hands-on experience, preparing them to enter into apprenticeship training that will result in their becoming operating engineers in the construction industry.  Future plans for the program include summer camps for WIDCA students.

The curriculum for the program is currently being developed by Fox Valley Technical College and the Operating Engineers.  The college is also working toward creating blended learning opportunities for students at schools, regional centers and training sites throughout Wisconsin.

Curriculum and academic services for the nonprofit public charter school will be provided by K12 and will be governed by an independent board of directors who will be authorized by the McFarland School District.  K12 also provides the curriculum for Wisconsin Virtual Academy.

Andrew Briddell, superintendent of McFarland School District, said that it is the mission of the district to serve the needs of all students and increase opportunities, adding that they are excited to offer the option to families across the state.

Terry McGowan, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, said the school will be the first career and technical education online school in the state, and has the potential to be a national prototype.

Open enrollments are currently being accepted by the school through April 29.  Information sessions will be held throughout the state, both online and in-person, allowing interested families the opportunity to meet staff and become acquainted with the curriculum.  The school plans to open this fall.