Not every 17-year-old can afford to sit in a classroom from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day.
Some have to work. Others have circumstances that prevent them from getting to school.
The Hall County School District wants to help these students.
The district is considering adding a Mountain Educational Center charter program, which would offer night classes to students who can’t make a traditional day program, most likely at Lanier Charter Career Academy.
“Our board and a number of our principals, teachers and community members are aware of Mountain Ed,” said Superintendent Will Schofield at an October school board meeting. “It’s a charter, alternative school, often for students who have fallen behind or have difficulties in their lives. These are satellites all over North Georgia, and they really have done a great job of providing alternative pathways for kids to get to graduation.”
School district communications director Gordon Higgins said the program is “efficient” in helping students who still want to graduate, but don’t really fit into the regular curriculum.
It hires adjunct instructors, often from the school or district, to work a few hours a week teaching in the program.
“There’s an awful lot of support that goes with it too,” Schofield said. “Every kid has a mentor that walks alongside them and helps them. They’ve really put together a good model over the years.”
Schofield predicted classes would be offered from 5-9 p.m. weeknights, though nothing is yet official and the district is still in discussion with Mountain Ed.
The program has 11 satellite locations throughout the state, including locations in Forsyth, Habersham, Lumpkin, Union and White counties.
“They really have a special group of folks that are working in the evening with these kids who need a little something different to get over the finish line,” Schofield said.
The district has considered adding a program in the past, and the timing could be right to open a location next fall, according to school officials.
“For years, they’ve talked to us about the possibility of a satellite in Hall County, and we are at the point now, because they are strong enough financially, that we think this is a real possibility for next year,” Schofield said.
Hall County school board member Bill Thompson said Hall students over the years have gone through the program elsewhere to be able to graduate. Offering the program locally could benefit a number of students, he said.
“It’s a good program,” Thompson said.