Hall County Schools is planning to pump about $800,000 into renovations and upgrades at the Early College at Jones facility in the Chicopee Mill area of Gainesville as enrollment continues to surge.
The dual-enrollment school, which partners with Brenau University, the University of North Georgia and Lanier Technical College, allows Hall County students to earn college credit as they complete a high school diploma.
The facility also houses the Newcomer Academy, which serves as an intensive immersion program for immigrant students of high school age.
Superintendent Will Schofield said at a board of education meeting on Jan. 28 that the Early College is one of the most successful programs he’s seen in over 30 years working in education.
Students there have a 95 percent pass rate, he added, and 50 percent earn post-secondary credits.
Moreover, Early College serves many first-generation college students, Schofield said.
But significant improvements are needed to continue to meet Early College’s mission and growing student body,
For example, the funding approved by the board of education, which comes from special purpose local option sales tax revenue, includes renovations to eight classrooms, including additional technology, marker boards, furniture and other materials.
Additionally, plans are set to convert the cafeteria into a modern student center, Schofield said.
The converted multi-function space will also allow Early College to better accommodate parent-teacher meetings and other after-school events.
The gymnasium also needs refurbishing, such as new LED lighting, a sound system, and other audio and visual equipment.
Finally, Early College does not currently have space or capacity to offer college-level “hard sciences” courses, Schofield said, such as biology, chemistry and physics.
But the new funding will allow for the construction of a fully operational science laboratory, with the potential to also establish a community clinic to both train students and serve the public.
“We anticipate these offerings to begin in the fall of 2019,” Schofield told The Times.