School district eyeing shale charter school

SALINEVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) — A Columbiana County school district is another step closer to launching the first ever shale charter school.

The school would be open to any ninth through 12th grader in the state of Ohio. The Southern Local School District has been working with the Jefferson County Educational Service Center to make the school a reality.

When WKBN first reported the story in January, the district was in the planning phase. However, it’s now on to step two, which is recruiting students.

“I see this as a great benefit for a lot of kids,” said Southern Local parent Tracy Amato.

Organizers said it will be the first of its kind: a high school designed to educate and prepare its graduates for careers in the shale industry, right out of high school. Planning is complete and the recruiting phase is to begin.

As of Thursday, all the necessary paperwork was submitted to the Ohio Department of Education. That has to be approved and then they must meet their quota before they can open.

“We do have to have a minimum of 25 to open so that’s our target. To have 25 kids and room to grow,” said Chuck Kokiko, Supervisor for the Jefferson County Educational Service Center.

It is being called The Utica Shale Academy. It will be open to any Ohio high school student and will focus heavily on science, technology, engineering and math.

Ohio’s standardized curriculum will be offered via online classes. Students will get a chance to get their hands dirty.

“We’re going to have some hands on and some simulation equipment that the students can work on in the school,” said Kokiko.

The academy would be a partnership between Southern Local and the Jefferson County Educational Service center.

“It’s separate from Southern Local. However, it is housed in Southern Local,” said Southern Local superintendent John Wilson.

Upon graduating, students will be able to take certification tests for the industry.

Recruiting began Thursday at Southern Local’s District showcase. Amato said she was impressed.

“The job opportunities here are not great, to be able to get into something like this out of high school at the ground level, that’s excellent,” said Amato.

The school plans on opening this fall. It also will give students the ability to take classes and apply the credits toward post secondary education.

Organizers said it could cut down the time required to obtain an associate’s degree by a whole year.

For more information, contact Kokiko at 740-283-3347 ext. 129 or email him at


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