ALBANY, GA (WALB) – The Dougherty County School System took the first step today to create a Career Academy.
The School Board unanimously authorized school officials to let the state know the system will compete for state grant money for the center. The big question now is how the local school system would pay for its part.
After the letter is sent, school board members say the next step is to determine if a Career Academy is even financially possible. They aren't required to close a school to make it happen. While there would be some start up funds from the state, the burden will rest primarily on the school and community and there are still a lot of questions to answer.
Laying bricks to build a wall or working with heavy equipment. Right now Dougherty County students make trips to Albany Tech to get just a taste of these careers but a Career Academy within the school system could change that.
"I think that it would be fool hearty of us not to look at this in depth," said Rev. James Bush, Dougherty County School Board Chairman.
Exactly why the board voted unanimously to move forward.
"The letter of intent does not commit us it will just give us an opportunity to participate upon examination of all of the costs," said Bush.
Cost is a big factor. The Lt. Governor's program will provide three million dollars in start up fees, but that's it.
"There's a lot of other money that needs to come to match that as well as cover other expenditures as well as run the facility long term," said Dougherty County School Board Member David Maschke.
Where will it be located?
"I'm pretty much like Darrel Ealum one of our school board members, I want a stand alone building, I want a building so its separated so it says this is actually the career academy," said Dougherty County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree. There are state consultants to help figure out the answers.
"They're going to help us along the way, this is what we've done in Glynn County so we get a chance to see some of the best practice models that are already out there," said Murfree.
If it's to happen here it will take the support of local secondary schools and the business community.
"Because of difficult economic times and taxes and these certain kinds of things and people are a little apprehensive of come off their wallet to say they're willing to contribute to another program," said Maschke.
Board members say they'll need to show the value of this program and what it's going to do to help students in the community. School Board members say a high percentage of Dougherty County students are not going on to college and certain post secondary opportunities.
They believe that's why this career academy makes sense, but again it comes down to dollars and cents.
If the school system determines it is financially able to move forward, they'll submit a formal application later this year. If selected as a top applicant, they'll eventually submit a detailed plan to the state.