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Funding OK'd for satellite tech campus

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

The vacant 25-acre parcel of land near downtown McDonough may not be that way for long, according to hopeful school officials.

The process of obtaining a Southern Crescent Technical College satellite facility in McDonough is fast-approaching its fruition, according to Southern Crescent Tech President Randall Peters.

"There was definitely some big news yesterday…," said Peters on Wednesday. "The Georgia Legislature, responding to the conference committee's recommendations on the budget, passed the FY12 [Fiscal Year 2012] budget, which will now go to the governor for his review and signature."

Lawmakers voted on the state's budget Tuesday, in the state house and state senate, to include $5.46 million in funding for the first phase of construction on the satellite facility.

"We're very excited about it," said State Rep. Steve Davis (R-McDonough). "We worked very hard to ensure that that money was maintained. It's been a long time coming."

Davis, who is also a member of the state house economic development sub-committee, said the proposal has gotten broad community support over the past several years.

The state's FY12 Budget now awaits the approval and signature of Gov. Nathan Deal, who included the funding in his budget proposal in January.

"The governor is a strong proponent and supporter of the Technical College System of Georgia," said Brian Robinson, spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal.

The Henry County Board of Education donated the lot — valued at about $1.4 million — to Southern Crescent Tech. The technical college, in turn, is expected to commit $2.5 million toward Phase I planning of a 15,000-square-foot classroom facility on the vacant lot adjacent to the Henry County High School campus.

Southern Crescent Tech currently offers some courses in business management and human resource management at Henry County's Academy for Advanced Studies, also located on the Henry County High School campus.

The Academy for Advanced Studies, according to Henry County Schools officials, is a consortium of area higher-education institutions that offer dual/joint-enrollment and satellite-campus courses to Henry County residents.

"It [the satellite campus] ideally creates a more seamless transition from the career tech classes to post-secondary studies and the career tech institution," said Henry County Schools Superintendent Ethan Hildreth. "It helps increase participation in dual enrollment. It also serves as a motivation for those who may not have been considering post-secondary learning."

Hildreth pointed out that more than 50 percent of students in Henry County Schools attend a public college or university in Georgia.

"This is an exciting time for Southern Crescent Technical College, and for Henry County students, and I look forward to the next phase of this project, which will be completing the plans and selecting a general contractor," said Southern Crescent Tech President Randall Peters.

Peters said the master plan for the property was drawn up the Atlanta-based architect firm, Lord, Aeck & Sargent Architecture.