Passage of HB1199 could allow James Valley CTC project to move forward
House Bill 1199 provides a line of credit through the Bank of North Dakota to fulfill the state’s funding obligation for 13 career academies.
JAMESTOWN – The passage of a bill in the North Dakota Legislature that provides a $68 million line of credit to help finance the construction of 13 career academies across the state shows how much Gov. Doug Burgum and state legislators believe in career and technical education, according to Darby Heinert, assistant director of the James Valley Career and Technology Center.
A holdup on federal funds being released delayed a planned project of the James Valley Career and Technology Center that targets workforce needs. The project includes a 7,000-square-foot addition to the south of the existing Career and Technology Center.
The project will provide more space for the building trades program to build two lake cabins indoors and to partner with Ringdahl EMS to station an ambulance and emergency medical staff at the Career and Technology Center. At the Jamestown Public School District's transition house nearby, a commercial kitchen would be added along with a handicap-accessible greenhouse south of the house.
The state Legislature approved $88 million for career academies, including $20 million in state funds that were already distributed and $68 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. The State Board for Career and Technical Education, which would distribute the federal funds, awarded the $68 million to 13 career academy projects, which require matching dollars that several communities raised. The Treasury Department did not release the federal dollars.
The James Valley Career and Technology Center was awarded an $800,000 grant from the Career and Technical Education Capital Projects Fund, a grant opportunity provided by the state Legislature. The grant is matched by a combination of local funds from the Jamestown Public School District’s contribution from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., James Valley Career and Technology Center and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006.
Earlier this month, Burgum signed House Bill 1199 which provides a line of credit through the Bank of North Dakota to fulfill the state’s funding obligation for the career academies.
“Establishing career academies across North Dakota is a critical piece of our comprehensive efforts to address the state’s workforce shortage,” Burgum said in a news release. “We are fortunate to have the resources available to honor the commitment made in 2021 and provide authority to borrow from the Bank of North Dakota to get these projects going and avoid delaying construction.”
Heinert said he is grateful that the Legislature and Burgum saw value in career and technical education.
“The support of that bill says so much about the belief of CTE, of the relationships we have with industry,” he said. “I think it speaks volumes to the recognition of how we actually support industry in North Dakota on so many different levels whether that is construction, whether that’s the automotive arena with auto tech or auto collision, ag, health careers, child care, I mean all the way across the board.”
Heinert said another big piece for career and technical education is securing $40 million for the impact of inflation.
“If the inflationary costs are met, we stand a good chance of meeting the vast majority of our goals,” he said.
The estimated cost of the expansion at the James Valley Career and Technology Center has increased from about $1.6 million to more than $2 million, The Jamestown Sun reported in December.
One way the cost of construction can be reduced include having students do the interior work. He said the plan would be for a contract to build any physical structures and to have students in the building trades program do the finishing work inside to help save money on labor.
“That’s a tremendous cost savings,” he said. “By the way, it’s giving them great opportunities for work-based learning.”
Heinert said the next step will be for the Jamestown Public School District to see what kind of dollars it has and prioritize what projects can be done. He said then bids would need to be collected.
Heinert said he isn’t sure when a groundbreaking could happen on the project. He said contractors might already have work lined up for the summer.
“That is just the game we are part of,” he said. “If the funds were made available early and contractors were available, yeah, realistically we could do something this summer.”