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Academy to be at site of middle school

By Greg Gelpi

The bids are out and the school system is working on its curriculum for the Open Campus/Career Academy.

The Clayton County Board of Education Curriculum and Instruction Committee discussed the status of its innovative campus, which will be on the site of Jonesboro Middle School.

Jonesboro Middle will relocate to a new campus behind Arnold Elementary School in the fall.

The project is "well under way," said Judy Johnston, assistant superintendent for secondary curriculum and instruction. If construction stays on schedule, the new facility could open as soon as fall 2005.

The campus will house two distinct programs, which will share a common administration building between the two schools.

A facet of the Open Campus that Johnston said her staff is exploring is adult education.

"As we've worked on this project, we've expanded what we've looked at," she said. "Another piece we are looking at doing is providing adult education to the community."

Board member Connie Kitchens said that parents raised an interest in more adult education at Monday's community forum.

"We recognize that any time we can help parents we can help children," Johnston said.

Superintendent Barbara Pulliam added that teaching parents helps them read applications and apply for jobs.

Board member Barbara Wells said adult education is especially important in the Hispanic community, where parents may be unable to help their children with homework because of a language barrier.

"There are many adults who have been invisible in the community that this can help read," Pulliam said.

The Open Campus will address the needs of nontraditional students, who may have dropped out at one time and are returning to school or who may be trying to graduate early.

The Career Academy will partner with local businesses and colleges to provide training to students interested in technical careers.

Johnston said her staff is still working on requirements to get into the two schools, as well as their curriculums.

Part of the plan for the Career Academy is to allow students to receive college credit for classes.

The committee also discussed other ways for the school system to partner with area colleges and universities.

Johnston said that the school system is looking at the possibilities of partnering with Clayton College & State University or Griffin Technical College.

"We'll be working with them to form some sort of partnership with one or both of them," she said.

Kitchens asked committee members to consider a partnership between the school system and a college. She added that in the Fulton County Public Schools system, where she teaches, staff members of Atlanta colleges write grants for the Fulton system and help the system conduct workshops. System teachers are also able to take college courses below cost or at no cost from colleges the system is partnered with.

Pulliam recalled being asked about forming a relationship with Clayton State at the public forum where the three finalists for her job were questioned.

"I do think this area is rich in higher education and resources," Pulliam said. "I am looking forward to opening that door. I am looking forward to making that reconnection."

She will meet with officials from Clayton State and the University of Georgia next week, she said.

In other business, the committee also discussed kindergarten and pre-kindergarten registration and the content of a 10-minute video the system produced to educate students and parents about third-grade retention and the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test.