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NCSS hopes for career academy grant

COVINGTON -- The Newton County School System hopes it gets an early Christmas present this week.

On Thursday, the Technical College System of Georgia is expected to announce the five recipients for college and career academy grants in the state.

In November, NCSS was selected as a finalist for the five grants, after submitting an application in September for its proposed Newton College and Career Academy.

"We are excited about being a finalist for the Georgia Career Academy Project," said James Woodard, director of Career, Technical and Agriculture Education at NCSS. "We feel as though we presented a strong application demonstrating the need for Newton County to build and implement a career academy."

The grant could provide up to $3.1 million primarily for construction or renovation costs for a location for the academy, Woodard said.

Although not all aspects of the program are planned yet, NCSS hopes to open the academy by August 2011 to serve up to 350 students in grades 10 through 12; it anticipates adding ninth-grade students by year two of the school. By year five of the school, it plans to serve up to 800 students in grades nine through 12 with higher enrollment in the upper grades.

Through a primary partnership with DeKalb Technical College, the academy will encourage dual and joint enrollment and will offer classes aimed at post-secondary education and the work force.

"We believe our application provides solutions in helping prepare our students for their future career pathways," Woodard said. "This opportunity will be a great economic development tool for Newton County."

Other finalists include Rockdale County Public Schools/the Rockdale Career Academy, Carroll County Schools, Coweta County Schools, city of Decatur Schools, Liberty County Schools, the Savannah Gateway Academy and High School for Media & Recording Arts, an independent institution proposing partnership with DeKalb Technical College, according to the TCSG.

The TCSG expects to make the announcement during the state board's monthly meeting, which starts at 1 p.m. Thursday in Atlanta.

Although NCSS has completed some initial planning for the program, Woodard said if NCSS receives the grant, the system will complete more steps to get the school on track to open.