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BoE takes another step toward career academy
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The Effingham County Board of Education approved a letter of intent to submit a charter for a proposed career academy at its meeting Wednesday.

Board members were presented a draft charter for a career academy. Evonne Mobley, who oversees the school system’s career and technical programs, presented board members with a draft charter for a career academy. The application for the career academy charter has to be submitted by Oct. 1, which is the same deadline for the career academy grant application.

“They are two separate things, but if you do not have the charter established, you will not be eligible for the career academy grant this go-round,” Mobley said.

Mobley told the board the charter requests a waiver of all local and state board of education rules. Assistant Superintendent Greg Arnsdorff said the waiver is important.

“By waving the scheduling for instruction rules, you can design your school day so there is the flexibility so that buses can run for students who don’t have the transportation to get there. Your classes don’t have to be a certain number of minutes,” Arnsdorff said. “You have the flexibility to make the program work.”

Board member Troy Alford said he thought the charter looked great. He liked that a student is allowed to withdraw from the academy and return to his or her home school if it was not the best fit for the student. He also said he thinks it will be a good option to help improve the graduation rate.

“I think it’s a good idea and a good opportunity for our kids,” Alford said.

Mobley told the board she examined charter applications from other counties and created the draft according to what she thought would meet the needs of Effingham.

The career academy, though set up as a charter school, would not be a private school but an additional school for the Effingham system, Mobley said. The terms of the agreement for the career academy would be for five years. The school would fall under the board of education but have its own board of directors.

A board of directors could be chosen from three parents from each high school, six business representatives, six educational representatives and perhaps a student representative.

According to the draft the business people would represent the following: one from the Effingham Chamber of Commerce, one business-at-large, one large business, one small business, one healthcare industry and one high-tech industry.

There would be members representing secondary faculty, post-secondary faculty, the school system, Savannah Technical College, school counselors in Effingham and one ex-officio representative, either the superintendent or his designee.

Students would follow the same rules as the other students in the county.

“That will include the wearing of uniforms,” Mobley said. “The students that will be going there will be coming and going from their home high schools where they would have to wear uniforms.”

Mobley told the board students will not receive a diploma from the career academy but rather from their home high school.

“At the same time we’re hoping they walk across the stage for their high school diploma and walk across the stage and receive a credential from Savannah Tech,” she said.

Mobley said transportation to and from the academy will be provided but food service will only be offered at the home high schools.

She said the school will be evaluated annually using end of course test and high school graduation test results along with the benchmarks set in the charter.

According to the charter. the career academy will be located on four acres adjacent to STC’s campus in Rincon. Ifthe new facility is not complete prior to the opening of the school. the old Effingham County Middle School facility could be used.

Mobley said the representative of the school system and STC would need to have an official agreement concerning the location on the college campus prior to Oct. 1.

Mobley said it was her understanding that while the majority of the financial aspects would be like other schools, grant funds would be facilitated by Savannah Tech.

The academic focus of the career academy would to be integrate “the academic with career and technical programs and real world experience,” Mobley said.