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State gives OK to Habersham Career Academy

POSTED: May 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The Georgia Board of Education has approved the Habersham County school system’s request to start the Habersham Career Academy in the fall.

The academy would give students the opportunity to graduate from high school while pursuing certification in technical and career fields or earning credits toward a college degree.

The district would work with North Georgia Technical College in Clarkesville in the effort.

Students could enroll at North Georgia Tech while completing high school courses in the areas of allied health, energy, cosmetology and environmental sciences.

Organizers expect the academy, which will be housed at North Georgia Tech, to enroll 45 students in its first year, increasing to 250 students by the end of the five-year charter term, according to the state Department of Education’s Web site.

"This project grew from a collaborative effort with (North Georgia Tech) to provide a nontraditional school setting for students who need more flexibility in school scheduling in order to meet their goal of graduating from high school," said Judy C. Forbes, the Habersham system’s superintendent.

"Students would be able to take academic classes in the evenings as well courses in a specific vocational/technical program," she said.

Upon graduation, students would receive their diploma along with a certificate for the program studied at North Georgia Tech.

"Our plan initially is to identify a small group of students who could benefit from this arrangement and to grow it into a larger group of students," Forbes said.

The Hall County and Gainesville school systems also had charter petitions before the state board this past week.

Under charter status, schools and school systems have more flexibility in developing curriculum and instruction, but they have more accountability for the work they do.

Hall is seeking charter status for its World Language Academy, which will be located at Chestnut Mountain Elementary School in South Hall. Chestnut Mountain is moving to a new 900-student building off Union Church Road in the fall.

The academy will feature a dual-immersion language program that will enable students to learn the state’s curriculum in English and Spanish.

And the Gainesville system is vying to become one of the state’s first charter school systems. Gainesville school officials have said they already have their innovation in place — giving parents the choice of elementary, middle school and high school "academies" built on a specific style of instruction.

Charter system status could result in $725,000 in money from the state, plus the opportunity for future grants that are tied to a school or school system having charter status.

The state board will consider the petitions for final approval at its June 12 meeting, said Matt Cardoza, a spokesman with the state Department of Education.



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