How students from Minnesota’s NCTC pulled themselves up and refused to accept closure of their school.

Under the president’s direction, the administration, faculty, and administrative folks got together to solve the problems. This was not easy. At the first meeting there were a lot of bruised egos in the room on all sides. But they persevered because failure was not an option. An advertising plan was created, along with a new Part 147 school CD to send to prospective students. This was done using existing school resources. A separate college web site was developed and dedicated to advertise just the Part 147 school.

Prospective students now get to talk to a real live person instead of a computer menu. The school was cleaned from top to bottom. People smelled a new beginning in the air. Together, they looked at their expenses and spent some of the $100,000 on making repairs and installing energy-saving devices like programmable thermostats and ceiling fans in the hangars to reduce fixed costs. They brought the students into the process of saving the school by encouraging them to network with high school students. They sold scrap aircraft parts to generate more money for repairs and advertising. For the first time ever, they created an alumni association to get the word out. The most important change of all was the creation of an interim dean position for the school, and along with that, responsibility for developing a one-year tactical and five-year strategic plan.

Did it work?
As of this date, the school now has a total of 41 students. Considering the school was on the ropes, it’s a big improvement from the original 25 but still quite a distance from the three-year target goal of 150 students. But their morale is good. They are now letting the world know the school is open and ready to train mechanics. Most importantly, they have a plan — so don’t count them out. If things go as they planned, the NCTC facility at Thief River Falls will become one of the premier Part 147 schools in the country in less than five years’ time.

In summary, NCTC folks are pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. They will serve as the model on what can happen when a state/publically run school has a will and a way to do the impossible.
Many other state/public schools in trouble will watch NCTC’s progress with interest. Some schools will cheer them on. Others will hope that they fail in order to justify their own self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. Either way the winds blow, NCTC is standing alone in a fight of a lifetime. I envy them.

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