Five school systems approved for ‘career academies’
Systems selected from 19 applicants
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.