Five school sys­tems ap­proved for ‘ca­reer acad­e­mies’

Sys­tems se­lected from 19 ap­pli­cants

The Covington News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Doug Gross

AT­LANTA — Five Ge­or­gia school sys­tems re­ceived more than $15 mil­lion in grants Tues­day to start pub­lic schools where stu­dents will re­ceive ad­vanced tech­ni­cal job train­ing.

The “ca­reer acad­e­mies,” cham­pi­oned by Lt. Gov. Casey Ca­gle and ap­proved by leg­is­la­tion he helped push through the Gen­eral As­sem­bly this year, will part­ner with tech­ni­cal schools to pro­vide the spe­cial­ized train­ing.

“I’m con­vinced when we de­sign an ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem around the in­di­vid­ual needs of the stu­dents, we will have ed­u­ca­tional ex­cel­lence,” said Ca­gle, who handed cer­e­mo­nial checks to the school dis­trict lead­ers at the state Capi­tol.

The Eff­in­g­ham, Floyd, Ful­ton and Glynn County sys­tems re­ceived grants for $3.2 mil­lion each to start acad­e­mies. Thomas County schools re­ceived $2.7 mil­lion to start an academy and Wal­ton County re­ceived $500,000 to ex­pand an ex­ist­ing academy.

The sys­tems were se­lected out of 19 that ap­plied for the money, which the Leg­is­la­ture ap­proved at Ca­gle’s re­quest.

“Each school sys­tem saw the enor­mous ben­e­fit of cre­at­ing a ca­reer academy in their com­mu­nity, a fact made even more ap­par­ent by how hard each worked to gain the fund­ing,” said Ron Jack­son, com­mis­sioner of Ge­or­gia’s De­part­ment of Tech­ni­cal and Adult Ed­u­ca­tion.

Ca­gle and other po­lit­i­cal and ed­u­ca­tion lead­ers cited fig­ures say­ing as much as 80 per­cent of the U.S. work force re­quires some kind of tech­ni­cal train­ing. The ca­reer acad­e­mies will al­low stu­dents to earn high school credit, and in some cases col­lege cred­its, while choos­ing a spe­cific area of job skills on which to fo­cus.

“We’ve got to have op­tions for our high school stu­dents and those op­tions need to be strong, they need to be valid ... and they need to be lead­ing to jobs,” said state school Su­per- in­ten­dent Kathy Cox.

The acad­e­mies were part of a char­ter-school pack­age of leg­is­la­tion that Ca­gle pushed dur­ing last year’s leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

The pack­age’s other key pro­vi­sion, which also passed, al­lows en­tire school sys­tems to ap­ply for the same free­doms that Ge­or­gia’s char­ter school law al­ready pro­vided for in­di­vid­ual schools.

Char­ter schools, which are gen­er­ally started by par­ents and other com­mu­nity mem­bers, are part of the pub­lic school sys­tem, but are funded sep­a­rately and given lee­way on some rules in reg­u­la­tions in ex­change for meet­ing the same test­ing and per­for­mance stan­dards as other pub­lic schools.

Ca­gle said he hopes eventu- ally to see ev­ery Ge­or­gia pub­lic school stu­dent have ac­cess to a ca­reer academy. Some of the 19 ap­pli­ca­tions the state re­ceived were from mul­ti­ple school dis­tricts in low-pop­u­la­tion ar­eas — propos­ing to al­low stu­dents from more than one dis­trict to at­tend.

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