By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor
The Morgan County School System has officially received the $3.33 million College and Career Academy (CCA) grant through the Technical College System of Georgia to be used for the establishment of a CCA right here in Madison. The system was also awarded an extra $130,000 in funds, which came as a pleasant surprise. The school system was informed back in December that they were one of three systems to be awarded the highly competitive grant. School officials are thrilled to officially receive the funds and eager to put them to good use. “I applaud the efforts of our school system employees and community members in working together to create a competitive grant application,” said Superintendent James Woodard. “The award will serve as a catalyst for designing new programs to meet the needs of our students and develop a workforce ready pipeline.” “The voice of our community has been heard!” cheered Sarah Burbach, assistant superintendent. “Our College and Career Academy will be so much more than a beautiful new building…It will house ‘real world’ experiences and hands-on instruction to provide our students with the unique skills they need to be college and career ready. We can’t wait!” “So many people put their time and experience into preparing this grant,” saud CTAE Director Jennifer Butler.
“For us to have additional $130,000 added to our $3,333,333.33 the day prior to our receiving the check was a great way to say ‘Thank You, your hard work paid off!’ to all people who have been involved in one way or another. I am very excited about the future of Morgan County Schools!” Back in December, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle praised Morgan County for this remarkable achievement. “I am excited that the Technical College System of Georgia approved Morgan County College and Career Academy as one of Georgia’s newest College and Career Academies,” said Lt. Governor Cagle. “As Lt. Governor, I am committed to providing every student in Georgia access to a college and career academy. [Morgan County’s] proven success at providing our children the relevant, job-related skills they need is more important than ever in the 21st century economy.” Georgia Senator Burt Jones is also looking forward to seeing Morgan County join the growing trend across Georgia of establishing successful CCAs. “Morgan County College and Career Academy will be a tremendous asset to our community,” said Senator Jones. “Through the leadership of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, College and Career Academies have thrived across the state helping produce a highly skilled, 21st Century workforce. With the funding provided today, community leaders can begin a partnership in Morgan County that will position students for career-ready jobs here in our community and globally. I am excited that this will be the 3rd College and Career Academy in Senate District 25.”
School officials believe this grant is the key to expanding and enhancing the educational opportunities available in the county. “We are committed to providing our community with the best opportunities through a College and Career Academy for all students,” said Woodard “This opportunity will transform our high school through the integration of workforce development strategies leading to greater economic development opportunities for our community.” “This outcome of this important and timely grant will change the lives of Morgan County students and our community as more students will stay in school, learning a craft about which they are passionate, and sharing that knowledge with others as they move on into college and careers,” said Burbach. The Morgan County Board of Education (BOE) is in the process approving facility plans to construct a brand new consolidated campus that will house the new CCA, a new high school, new middle school, and new transportation facility. The CCA will be the first project completed, with officials hoping the opening will happen in July 2017. According to Lt. Governor Cagle, “Morgan County College and Career Academy plans to focus their goals on local workforce development. With workforce needs in agribusiness, manufacturing, health science, biotechnology, engineering, and information technology, Morgan County College and Career Academy will give students specialized training in each of these areas in order to help provide community and sustainability to the region while providing 21st Century career ready jobs for students.” Georgia College and Career Academies, an initiative of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, partner local school systems with the state’s technical colleges, other post-secondary institutions, and local businesses, enabling the development of high school and college-level programs that train students for quality, in-demand jobs. “Students find that the academies’ challenging, hands-on programs provide greater relevancy and value which not only lead to higher graduation rates, but also employment. The specified training for students is attractive to area businesses and communities prosper from the highly-trained and skilled workforce. Businesses have found that College and Career Academies partnerships provide them with a qualified and skilled workforce. Because of Cagle’s initiative, there are now 37 College and Career Academies in Georgia,” reported a press released from Cagle’s office.
Morgan County Community leaders are excited about what the CCA will not only mean for the state of education in the county, but the positive affect it could have economic development. “ This is a tremendous opportunity for our county and our students. It will open career opportunities that will enable us to meet business and industry expectations for the workforce of tomorrow. As the school system moved forward with plans to improve school facilities and educational opportunities, the end goal is to benefit current and future students of the county. “Our vision is that our high school/middle school campus will become a “Move on When Ready Campus” where students will graduate receiving their high school diploma and at the same time be awarded college credits, technical college certificates, industry certificates, and where appropriate associate degrees,” said Woodard.