Cobb superintendent delivers career academy update
by Hannah Morgan
December 21, 2013 10:57 PM | 2752 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — In addition to math, science and English classes, Cobb County students will soon have the opportunity to enroll in classes such as nursing, computer repair, culinary arts or cosmetology.

With-in the next few years, three “career academies,” will be built around the county, offering students technical and hands-on training for careers immediately after high school graduation.

While the majority of the details have not been finalized, Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said the district was planning on “regionalizing” the academies, placing one in west Cobb, one in northeast Cobb and another in south Cobb.

Hinojosa gave an update on his plan at a forum with seven of the 21-member Cobb Legislative Delegation on Wednesday.

Legislators excited

State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-Austell), who is running for state school superintendent, said she was excited about the increased options the academies would offer students.

There is a critical need, Morgan said, for students who are equipped with technical skills right out of high school.

In talks with local employers, Morgan has heard there is a void in high school students who are ready to work after graduation.

By mastering electrical skills and gaining experience with child care and cosmetology, students would have more opportunities for varied careers earlier than their counterparts at traditional high schools.

College isn’t the right decision for every high school student in Cobb, Morgan said.

By offering more options for students in high school, Cobb graduates would be eligible for high-paying technical jobs such as nursing and electrical work.

“We think it’s a win-win. Not every kid is going to go to a four-year college,” Hinojosa said.

Transformation of plans

The district initially planned to build just one career academy with SPLOST IV taxes, but the board changed its mind at the last minute, Hinojosa said.

Cobb voters approved SPLOST IV tax last March, and the district expects to collect roughly $717 million between Jan. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2018.

About $30 million of that money will be spent on the three academies, said Chris Ragsdale, the district’s deputy superintendent for operational support.

Hinojosa said the academies would be built into pre-existing high schools, for roughly $10 million each, as wings to the schools where the career classes would be taught.

While none of the details had been finalized, Hinojosa said students at Osborne High School would most likely be seeing a career academy added to their school. The board was considering a number of different schools in northeast and west Cobb as well, but Hinojosa would not reveal what schools were on the list.

The classrooms are expected to open in 2017, Hinojosa said, and so far, the community has been supportive of the initiative.

When more information is revealed, Cobb County students will have the opportunity to apply to any academy they are interested in.

The diverse, hands-on lessons might be the trick to keeping some kids in school longer, and on to a career path immediately after high school, the superintendent said.

“For some kids, that’s exactly what they need: Hands on learning,” Hinojosa said.

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