Career Academy may cause another school closure - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Career Academy may cause another school closure

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Board chairman David Maschke Board chairman David Maschke
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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  A proposal to create a Career Academy in Albany is raising concerns. The school board chairman says the school system might have to shut down a high school to afford it.

Dougherty County School leaders will meet Thursday with Lt. Governor Casey Cagle to learn more about a possible Charter Career Academy that would allow students to attend high school while earning technical skills at a college.

School officials say a Charter Career Academy is an option they want to study, but there are a lot of questions about whether its financially feasible.

Board member David Maschke suggested closing one of Dougherty County's four high schools to come up with the money for it, but emotion and tradition could be standing in the way.

A Career Academy in the Dougherty County School System is something Dougherty County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree wants to explore.  "His position is to take in and look at every possible opportunity for the children of Dougherty County," said R. D. Harter, DCSS Public Information Officer.

But is it feasible? Dougherty County will lose eight million dollars in state funding this year. Grant money is available for the career academy, but it must be matched with local money.

Board chairman David Maschke suggests closing one of Dougherty County's four high schools to reduce costs and have a place to house the academy. There seems to be strong community support for the academy.

"I think a career academy would be a positive, have a positive effect," said Westover High School Graduate Tomeka Barnes.

But many people don't like the idea of closing a high school to make it happen. 15:33:00 Haywood "Why would you take something that's worked for us, that's been a milestone for our history in Albany and change it?" asked Haywood Barnes, Westover High School Graduate.

"I think it would be a tragedy to get rid of Albany High, because it has so much history here," said Albany High School Graduate Jerry Brimberry.

Maschke cites under-populated schools as a reason to consolidate so we looked at the numbers. Over the last 16 years, the system's lost more than nine hundred high school students. That's more than the enrollment at Albany High School today.

In the last ten years, the student enrollment at Monroe High School and at Westover High School have grown, but at Dougherty High they've lost more than 300 students, and Albany High's population is virtually the same.

"If the school is under populated and there are other variables that apply, maybe something that you can look at going forward, but if the question is does Albany High hold a specific and special place in the city, the answer is yes," said Mike Lawson, Albany High School Graduate.

School officials hope to learn more after sitting down with the Lt. Governor and Senator Freddie Powell-Sims.

School officials say tomorrow's session is intended just to be informative for the school board so they can make decision about the future.

The meeting is open to the public if they're interested in hearing the discussion. It's at 1:15 in the Board Room of the Administration Building.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle has helped established Career Academies in Floyd and Gordon Counties. In each instance, the county got three million dollars in grant money to start the schools.

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