By Chad Frey
Newton Kansan
What does it mean for education when a large number of jobs are added — as has been the case with the Kansas Logistics Park potentially adding hundreds of jobs in the wind energy sector during the next four to five years?
Change and growth.
“This could mean growth and interesting partnerships for our vocational programs,” said USD 373 board of education member Carol Sue Stayrook Hobbs.
It could mean more students, which would mean more state funding.
But the biggest changes would not be quite so visible to the public.
Some of those curriculum changes may happen at the college level as well.
“We have a very strong pre-engineering component, that is in place,” said Bethel president Perry White. “We do need to explore with these companies, to get a better idea of their needs, and to help them understand the strengths our graduates might bring aside from engineering. We graduate people who are immediately employable in other areas.”
White said Bethel is one of the largest “importers of talent”  to Harvey County, and partnering with companies like Tindall and New Millennium Wind Energy could help keep some of that talent in the area.
Keeping the best and brightest here also rang true with Hobbs.
“We need to explore what kind of skills our students will need to fit into those jobs,” Hobbs said.
In the case of USD 373, adding courses to Brooks Trade Center may be in order — Brooks Trade Center is a vocational school. For Bethel it could mean the addition of new courses or majors.
But all of that is open for discussion as both entities discern how to best position themselves to support new companies.
“We look forward to the opportunity to talk more with them about how we move forward and strengthen our relationship,” White said.
And all those changes are down the road, none of it is immediate.
“We need to continue, in these tough budgeting times, to provide the strong educational base, to keep our kids moving through high school and give them the strong education they need to move on,” Hobbs said.