The Ozark City School System is incorporating career academies into the design of its new high school.
The new Carroll High School will be more than brick and mortar.
Within its walls is a plan to prepare students for not just a diploma, but a career path by bringing the career center philosophy to the traditional high school.
“One thing we find at the career center, our students are focused they see relevance in what they're learning as applied to where they're going and so we're excited that all of our teachers will be working together on projects that will be throughout English, science, math and their career focus,” says Career Technical Center Director Dana Griggs, “We’re very excited about the career concept. We’re looking to bring the relevance in where our students see themselves in four years five bring it into what they’re learning right now so they will be able to explore their interests a lot more thoroughly before they actually go into it or go to college to continue it.”
Although your standard class requirements will stay the same, school officials plan to supplement their curriculum with career academies, allowing students to focus on business, health, technology and engineering or even performing arts.
Freshmen will be in their own academy focusing on general studies.
“I may be a very strong math student I really don't know what careers those math skills lend themselves to,” says Carroll High School Principal Jacqueline Kelley, “They actually see those math skills they're so strong in seeing those applied in certain areas so it gives them a better idea of what their strengths, their academic strengths can help them with in the future.”
Talking with students from other systems with similar programs they've learned it may even help some students realize what they don't enjoy.
“Some will tell you they really wanted to be in this field or that field but once they did the courses they knew that wasn't exactly what they wanted so when they got off to college they didn't have to waste time,” says Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Diane Holman.
Each career academy will be assigned to a section of the new school equipped with the specific teaching tools students need, bringing similar classes and teachers closer together so they can share students and collaborate.
But, Ozark’s Superintendent Michael Lenhart says proration may limit the programs they'll be able to offer in these academies.
He says Governor Bentley has mentioned across the board cuts throughout the state, implying another year of proration.
Lenhart says the latest budget report predicts over a 5% shortfall in the educational trust fund.
He says if they get another 5% proration, they'll have to take a good hard look at cutting instructional staff and programs in order to stay in the black.
“What would be affected is the number of programs that we offer through each one of those academies. We may have to cut that back some but we're still going to have academies and it's going to be a different kind of a high school because you'll be able to pick a career field while you're going to high school,” says Superintendent Michael Lenhart.
No proration has been officially announced at this time.
They expect to break ground on the new high school by the end of March and students could be moving in, in two years.