The highly anticipated Newton College and Career Academy will be opening its doors much sooner than originally anticipated. Instead of January 2012, the school will open in August, at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year. The only glitch? The academy will start out at Alcovy High School.
The Newton County Board of Education voted earlier this year to move from a 4x4 block schedule to a seven-period day in the high schools and administrators worried that attempting to transition students into the career academy at the first of the year would be near impossible. Another option would have been to postpone the opening until the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, which was not something they wanted to do. The alternative is to open at AHS and transition students to the academy once the building is ready in January.
There have been 700 applications to the charter school and of those 300 students have been selected to attend. They will be able to study a variety of programs, including broadcast/video production, automotive services, finance, accounting and banking, healthcare, culinary arts and engineering. The five major program areas are in health care, public safety, engineering/manufacturing, business/computer science and agriculture and were identified by a community survey conducted by the Newton County Leadership Collaborative.
James Woodard, director of career, technical and agricultural education for the Newton County School System and the Chief Operating Officer for the career academy, warned that some programs that will eventually be available may not be right at first, due in large to budget constraints, but said they will add programs in the future.
The career academy began in the late-90s, but has been dependent on several grants, including a $3 million grant from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle last year. They also have $12 in bonds through Qualified School Construction and have recently received a $10,000 grant from Cagle's office to become a Ford PAS Next Generation Learning Community.
Parents, teachers, business leaders and other members of the community are being asked to participate in a survey on the career academy's website at www.newtoncareeracademy.org to let their opinion be known. A parent forum is scheduled for April 28 at DeKalb Technical College and a business industry forum is scheduled for April 29 at the Board of Education office.