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WDT Approved to Form S.D.'s First Technical College Local Education Agency

New Board to Include Trustees from Outside Rapid City 

A decision by the South Dakota Board of Technical Education (BoTE) will be monumental in the future course of Western Dakota Tech (WDT). By unanimous vote, following a special hearing, the board approved the college’s petition to become the first Local Education Agency in S.D. on May 21.

Currently, local school boards oversee the management and budget of the state’s technical colleges. Agreeing that WDT could best be served by forming a separate board comprised of regional leaders/employers, and not be limited to representation from Rapid City only, the Rapid City Area Schools (RCAS) Board supported the college’s petition.

Yesterday's action removes WDT as an educational component of RCAS.

“The separation from the Rapid City Area Schools District makes it possible for Western Dakota Tech’s new board to include trustees from communities outside of Rapid City,” said Ann Bolman, Ed.D., WDT President. “This will strengthen ties throughout western South Dakota to better meet employers’ technical training needs, bolster students’ educational opportunities, and grow the regional economy.”

Dr. Bolman thanks everyone who has provided strong support for the LEA.

Mike Roesler, RCAS Board President, spoke in favor of the petition during the BoTE hearing.

“I want everybody to know this is an amicable separation,” he said. “There is nothing of concern at this college. Everything is running smooth, which makes our job easier.”

Others providing testimony in favor of the petition included: Paulette Davidson, Monument Health, Rapid City; Jon Gillam, Floyd’s Truck Center, Rapid City; Anna Hayes, Elevate Rapid City; Dick Johnson, West River Electric Association, Wall; Curt Pochardt, RCAS Board; Andrea Powers, Southern Hills Economic Development Corporation, Hill City; Linda Rabe, LEA vetting group member, Rapid City; Andy Scull, J. Scull Construction Services Inc., Rapid City; and Steve Willard, K-12 Superintendent, Belle Fourche.

“We appreciate the enthusiasm of Western Dakota Tech's industry supporters and look forward to their continued support and partnership to grow the high-skilled technical workforce,” said Dana Dykhouse, S.D. BoTE President, CEO of First PREMIER Bank, Sioux Falls.

With the new LEA, WDT looks to build upon its already strong foundation.

"These are exciting times in post-secondary education in South Dakota," said Scott Peterson, BoTE member, owner Scott Peterson Motors of Belle Fourche and Sturgis.

LEA Background
Individuals from communities outside of Rapid City, served by Western Dakota Tech (WDT), have had little voice in the college’s local governance. As WDT is a part of Rapid City Area Schools (RCAS), only people living in the Rapid City School District are eligible to be elected to serve on the local WDT board. The new, separate board will allow for board members, from industry around the area that rely upon WDT program graduates for employees, to be focused primarily on the needs of technical higher education. The current election system has not allowed for such considerations.

RCAS school board members’ constituencies rely upon the board members to focus on district needs and issues, which can create challenges for board members to spend on WDT matters. Therefore, the RCAS Board petitioned the South Dakota Board of Technical Education for WDT to become its own independent education agency. As WDT’s organizational structure has allowed the college to function independently from the RCAS District, the cost to WDT for this change will be minimal.

About Western Dakota Tech
Western Dakota Tech was established in 1968 and is the only technical college serving the western South Dakota region.

Western Dakota Tech offers programs in a variety of fields, including Business and Computers, Construction and Manufacturing, Energy and Environmental Technologies, Health Sciences, Legal and Public Services, and Transportation Technologies.

More than 98 percent of Western Dakota Tech's most recent graduates are working, continuing their education, or are enlisted in the military. [Placement information is derived from graduate surveys, faculty-collected data, placement surveys started six months after graduation, and the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. Overall placement rate is figured by: (responding graduates employed, continuing education, or in military service)/(responding graduates who are seeking employment). The number of program graduates are unduplicated by CIP code.]

Western Dakota Tech faculty, staff, and administration focus their efforts on helping students gain the skills and experiences they need to succeed. Through hands-on learning, internships, and industry partnerships, Western Dakota Tech students graduate ready to make a real and immediate contribution to their employers and to their communities.

For information about Western Dakota Tech, call (800) 544-8765 or (605) 718-2565 or send an email to Visit us on the web at

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