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Charter Approved for Georgia's First Regional Career Academy
Thursday, 19 March 2009

March 19--  The state Board of Education has approved the charter to start Georgia's first regional career academy.

Southeastern Early College and Career Academy will serve students from high schools in Vidalia, Toombs, Montgomery and Treutlen counties in classes on the campus of Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia.

The academy's first board chairman, Martin Moses of Uvalda, says it's an historic achievement for rural South Georgia.  "One of the most outstanding things that it shows about our community is that we can come together, we can take on a long term project, and we can be very successful with it.  Our community forum which we held four years ago brought education to our attention as something which needed to be addressed in our community. The students who have been made aware of this program are anxious to get involved and it looks like the initial enrollment may exceed expectations," Moses said.

Moses credited Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons for his vision of what the career academy could mean to education and economic development.  Those thoughts were echoed by Southestern Tech President, Dr. Cathy Mitchell, "I really feel that for certain students it will make the difference between staying in school or dropping out.  A lot of times it's not that the students can't do the work, they just don't see the relevance in some of the work they're doing," she said.

There's a lot of work to do before the first academy classes convene next school term.  The local board is expecting some state seed money estimated at $250,000 to help with hiring of a chief executive officer and other staff, the curriculum has to be developed, the class schedule set and students enrolled.  At least 72 students are expected the first year with over 200 projected by year five.

Initially classes will be conducted in existing classrooms at STC.  A 13-acre site to the rear of the campus will ultimately be the home of a $7 million automotive technology building which will also contain career academy classrooms and offices.  it could be two years before that is completed.

At a meeting Thursday night, the board named parents Cindy Hudson of Vidalia and Stella Morris of Mount Vernon to the board.  Other parents from Toombs County and Treutlen County will be named later.  Morris was also named to the Finance Committee along with Hal Chesser and Allen Rice.

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