Charter school grant submitted

$3.5 million would help Rocket Academy blast off as the area’s first regional technical education center
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

The paperwork is completed and the waiting has started for the Rocket Academy Governance Council.

An application for $3.5 million from Wisconsin’s Workforce Innovation Grant Program, which is giving out $100 million in competitive grants, met the Monday deadline.

The money would help the Cedar Grove-Belgium School District create a charter school focused on technical education that could draw students from across the area as well as companies from Sheboygan to Milwaukee to train their employees.

Supt. Chad Brakke developed the idea not long after he took the district’s head job last year during discussions with educators and industry representatives who are trying to solve the shortage of skilled workers.

The academy will focus on industrial information technology, computer-numerical-controlled machining, industrial maintenance and pre-engineering.

Now, the Rocket Academy is a go. The grant, written by a representative from the Cooperative Educational Service Agency, would just make it go faster.

The grant request includes four components: $800,000 for a facility purchase, $1.9 million for facility renovation; $770,000 for equipment and learning systems and $110,000 for two 10-passenger vans to transport students to and from the center from remote areas.

The 10-page request lists more than $575,000 in expected matching funds, including fees to use the facility from companies, colleges and universities, consortium fees from other school districts, state aid that would follow students through open enrollment and corporate pathway scholarships that train students through one or two-year programs with a plan to hire them.

 Other matching funds may come from in-kind donations and other sources from economic development organizations in Sheboygan and Ozaukee counties in the form of other grants, low-cost loans and money from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The project summary portion of the grant application references the industries in which the academy trains, Lakeshore Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Sheboygan campus, Lakeland University, Milwaukee Area

Technical College and industry partners such as Charter Steel, Krier Foods, Carlson Tool, LAB Midwest, Zorn Compressor and Equipment, Ansay and Associates and Stevens Equipment Supply.

“I think it’s neat having this many people coming together. Grant agencies eat that up,” Mike Dietrich, council member and vice president of LAB Midwest, said.

Announcements of grant recipients are expected to be made Nov. 15, but Brakke said a second round of grants may be awarded. Applications may be edited and resubmitted.

“I think we’re positioned pretty well. We’re already starting down the path (of creating the academy),” Brakke said.

The council is also seeking a noncompetitive $900,000 grant through the Wisconsin Charter Schools Program, which is funded by a $95 million grant from the U.S. Department of Public Education. The application deadline is in January.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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