The End? ...



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Well, Not Quite ... We Just Thought We'd Dodged A Bullet ... but it was not THE END ...

"Career Academy" Voted Down 4-3

... that was close!

A standing room only crowd lined the walls of the Dougherty County School System board room Wednesday as speakers voiced their opinions to the Board, pro and con, concerning a possible Albany College and Career Academy at Albany High School. The new charter school was defeated by a 4-3 vote.


ALBANY, Ga. — Murmurs of surprise rippled throughout a packed Dougherty County School Board meeting room Wednesday as the Board voted 4-3 to shoot down the proposed Albany College and Career Academy (ACCA) — with Board member Velvet Riggins casting the deciding vote.

The vote was racially split with Milton Griffin, James Bush, Anita Williams-Brown and Riggins voting against the charter school and David Maschke, Carol Tharin and Darrel Ealum voting for it.

Riggins was on the three-person committee appointed by the Board last year to help put plans for the ACCA together. Also on the committee were Darrel Ealum and Carol Tharin.

The issue took on a decidedly racial tenor during a ACCA steering committee presentation to the Board last Tuesday when Mt. Zion Baptist Church Pastor Daniel Simmons warned the Board that passage of “this plan will take us back to the days of Jim Crow.”

At a meeting with black ministers three days later, Superintendent Joshua Murfree, who initially was a strong supporter of the new charter school, backpedaled and assured the ministers that the ACCA would not be on Wednesday’s Board agenda.

On Wednesday, Board member David Maschke asked that the ACCA be placed on the agenda with the stipulation that the steering committee have a budget in place for review before the charter was sent to the state for approval on Aug. 1

Riggins made a motion to amend Maschke’s original motion to include a change in the way the ACCA’s directors — specifically reducing the number of directors nominated from the Albany Area Chamber and Economic Development Committee from four to two — and Maschke approved the amended motion.

But when Bush called for a vote, Riggins voted ‘no.’

“I had a problem with a review of the budget rather than approval, Riggins said after the meeting, explaining her ‘no’ vote. “We have a fiscal responsibility on this Board to spend the taxpayers’ money wisely.”

Riggins’ vote stunned Tharin and Ealum.

“It is a shame that a member of the Board of Education (Riggins) sat at every meeting saying ‘it’s all about the children’ time and time again,” said Tharin, “But when it comes time to put their vote where their mouth is, they don’t do it.”

Ealum was equally incensed.

“I am extremely disappointed,” said Ealum. “This was the first time that this community, business and education, had an opportunity to come together and create a paradigm shift in the way we educate our children, and we failed them.”

Prior to the vote, concerned citizens packed into the Board’s customary prebriefing and for the next two hours voiced opinions, both pro and con.

Simmons again was the last speaker to step to the podium, and pointed a finger at the Chamber.

“Not all in the Chamber have been supportive of the Dougherty County School System, except in the case of one superintendent,” said Simmons, in an apparent reference to former superintendent Sally Whatley.

In other business, the board OK'd a $116 million budget in a 6-1 vote. District 1 School Board representative David Maschke was the only opposing vote.

The plan does not include a tax increase.

In a preliminary vote on June 11, Maschke said he opposed the spending blueprint because it did not include information on spending controls and consultant fees.

The budget also reduces the number of employee furlough days to six from the 10 that employees had in FY 2012 that ends Saturday.


As of June 14, 2012

NOTE: There is a plan afoot to save our sign in front of the high school and I am writing a brief response to the current article in N&C regarding that when I get all my info and dates together...probably next week since some pertinent parties are out of town. Meanwhile wanted to keep you up to date on the latest.

~ Martha LeSueur Nicholson ('56)


As of August 20, 2017

NOTE:  I was told that "the sign" might remain out front with the word SCHOOL removed; OR the sign might end up in the "museum".

~ Beverly Smith Herrington ('55)





Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Panel OKs charter school draft

By Terry Lewis



Education consultant Russ more talks about the Albany College and Career Academy (ACCA) start-up charter petition before the ACCA Executive Steering Committee Tuesday. The steering committee unanimously approved the charter and will hold an open, informal discussion with the Dougherty County School Board at 10 a.m. on June 19. The Board is then expected to vote on approving the charter petition on June 27.


ALBANY -- The executive steering committee of the Albany College and Career Academy (ACCA) unanimously approved a draft startup charter petition on Tuesday and voted to move it forward to the Dougherty County School Board for review.

The 67-page charter will be presented to the board during an informational meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the school administration building. It is anticipated the board will vote on the proposed charter during its June 27 meeting.

"This is truly a sea change moment for this community," said Executive Steering Committee Chair Bobby McKinney. "This new charter is unlike any other in the state and we look forward to working with the Board of Education on it."

Consultant Russ Moore of Seamless Education Associates said the ACCA charter is unique in two major respects.

"Never before has a charter been written in a Georgia county with these particular demographics -- a very high number of economically disadvantaged students and such a high African-American enrollment," said Moore. "Secondly, the blending of academics and CTAE (Career, Technology and Agricultural Education) courses, which we call 'embedding,' has never been done before.

"This is a unique opportunity for Dougherty County."

If approved by the board and the state, the new charter school would begin operating in August 2013.

ACCA would be run by an autonomous policymaking board, called directors, and a chief executive office, who would be appointed by and answerable to those directors.

In the application, which took nearly 200 volunteers almost a year to put together, the steering committee, the charter states, wanted to "produce a concept that is bold, innovative and a clear sign that Dougherty County is determined to face its challenges head on, to persevere and to overcome all obstacles."

The charter calls for repurposing Albany High School over a five-year period into the ACCA's permanent home, beginning in August of the 2013-14 school year.



June 8, 2012

Draft calls for evolving Albany High into career academy

By Terry Lewis (750)
~ Albany Herald

The charter petition draft for Dougherty County’s proposed College and Career Academy includes “repurposing” Albany High School at 801 Residence Ave.


ALBANY, Ga. — The steering committee of Dougherty County's nascent College and Career Academy received the first draft of its charter petition Friday.

The Albany Herald has obtained a copy of the draft. In it, the committee recommends naming the new charter school "Albany College and Career Academy" (ACCA) and calls for a gradual "repurposing" of Albany High School into ACCA's permanent home.

The 59-page draft must be reviewed and approved by the Dougherty County School Board and Superintendent Joshua Murfree before an Aug. 1 deadline to submit the charter petition to the state.

According to the petition, ACCA's mission is "to produce college and career ready graduates with relevant skills and education and with exceptional work ethic who can compete and succeed in our global economy."

If approved by the Board, Murfree and the state, the new charter school would begin operation in August of the 2013-14 school year.

ACCA would be run by an autonomous policymaking board, called directors, and a chief executive office who would be appointed by and answer to the directors.

In the application, which took nearly 200 volunteers almost a year to put together, the steering committee wanted to "produce a concept that is bold, innovative, and a clear sign that Dougherty County is determined to face its challenges head on, to persevere and to overcome all obstacles."

ACCA's goals and measurable objectives will be based on a five-year plan beginning in the 2013-14 school year. Increasing the county's graduation rate is at the top of that list.

From the 2011 county baseline cohort graduation rate of 54.12 percent, the percentage of students who attend ACCA and graduate with a regular high school diploma will start at 60 percent in Year One and increase 5 percent per year:

  • 60 percent at the end of Year One;

  • 65 percent at the end of Year Two;

  • 70 percent at the end of Year Three;

  • 75 percent at the end of Year Four;

  • 80 percent at the end of Year Five.

The other measurable goals listed in the application include improving CTAE (Career, Technical and Agricultural Education) enrollment in the DCSS, to improve the State Performance Targets (SPT) for end of course tests in English and Math students enrolled at ACCA; to increase the number of students enrolled at ACCA who demonstrate skills attainment in a career pathway; and to increase the number of students in Dougherty County high schools enrolling in post-secondary education.

The charter draft states that "ACCA will adhere to the admission policies of the Dougherty County School System. Students must first be enrolled in one of the high schools of the Dougherty County School System and then register for one or more classes offered at ACCA.

"ACCA will not have a separate “school number” for state accountability purposes, nor will students be considered “full time” enrollment students at ACCA, no matter how many classes students take at ACCA.

"All credits earned by ACCA students will "flow back" to the student's base high school for accountability. Students at ACCA will be counted in the enrollment and state report card of their base schools."

Another unique concept is the makeup of the ACCA's Directors. The seven voting members will be:

  • One member nominated by the Superintendent and the local board to represent secondary education.

  • One member jointly nominated to represent post-secondary education by the presidents of Albany Technical College, Albany State College, and Darton College.

  • One high school parent member (who is not an employee of the local board or any participating college) jointly selected by the high school principals.

  • Two business members nominated by the Board of Directors of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

  • Two business members nominated by the Board of Directors of the Albany Dougherty Economic Development Commission.


DCSS Board member Darrel Ealum said Friday he expects the charter draft to be reviewed and then go before the full board for approval on June 27, 2012.


Plan for Albany College and Career Academy moves forward



Several Dougherty County School Board members and community volunteers are finalizing a plan to create Albany College and Career Academy. They've been working on a proposal for more than a year.

The idea is to turn Albany High School into a special school to get students out of their seats and provide hands-on work and projects to prepare them for the workforce.

"Our entire concept from the very beginning was to come up with a concept where we can reach out to those young folks who have dropped out or maybe they're in the process of dropping out. So that they can see that they're something different," said school board member Darrel Ealum.

The steering committee for the Albany College and Career Academy will present a proposed charter to the Superintendent on Tuesday.

The board is expected to vote on it June 27th and send it to the state. If it's approved, organizers hope to open the facility August 2013. Organizers say they plan to start with 200 students and then grow there.


Copyright 2012 WALB. All rights reserved.









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