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Career academies await approval of federal money

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The director of the Department of Career and Technical Education says even though the CTE board has chosen 11 projects to fund for career academies, to the tune of $68.3 million dollars, there’s still an issue.

That money would be coming from federal coronavirus relief funds. But Wayde Sick told the College Technical Education Committee – the money has not yet arrived. Sick said the state submitted the “grants plan” to the US treasury in February – but has not heard back.

"Even though the state has approved those applications, we are still sitting on the fence," Sick said. "Those dollars can't be spent until we hear back from the feds."

Sick said in addition, the North Dakota Legislature gave CTE the authority to spend those dollars only through June 30th, 2023.

"I've already alerted two interim committees that an extension is going to be needed, so that we can spend those dollars," Sick said.

Sick said dollars from the American Recovery Plan Act must be spent by Dec. 31st, 2024 – and the Coronavirus Capital Project money must be spent by Dec. 31st, 2026.

Sick also told the Committee he will be asking the 2023 Legislature for money to operate and maintain career academies.

"We can't invest $90 million on a bunch of facilities, and then just leave them high and dry," Sick said.

Sick said his staff is now putting together a proposal to take to lawmakers. He told the Council CTE received $26 million in the current biennium, whereas K-12 education is receiving a lot more than that.

"If we value career and technical education, then why is the investment only $26 million?" Sick said.

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