The Dawson County Board of Education voted on Monday night to unanimously approve Mountain Education Charter High School to begin operating out of Hightower Academy for the upcoming school year.
Mountain Education Charter High School is a self-paced public high school that grants regular Georgia high school diplomas. The program runs year round Monday-Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m.
During the June Board of Education meeting, a representative from the program presented an informational session with details on operations.
It is a state chartered, SACS accredited public high school that caters to non-traditional student in ways similar to Hightower, but with a few differences.
"The differences include: they only offer classes in the evening where Hightower is only a day program, they operate on a completely flexible schedule where Hightower has fixed hours four days per week and daily attendance is expected, and they operate year-round where Hightower operates on the Dawson County school calendar," said Superintendent Damon Gibbs.
The primary goal of the school is to help a student graduate. They specifically target students who have dropped out of school and would like to still get a diploma and students who have not dropped out but need to make up classes to graduate on time.
Gibbs told the board members on Monday that the school would begin with the list of 24 students who did not graduate from Dawson County High School last year. They will reach out to those students in an effort to enroll them and eventually have them graduate.
There is no fee for students who are enrolled full-time.
The agreement for the next year is a contract that operates on a year-to-year basis.
Rolling enrollment and career counseling are features of the program that looks at students on a case-by-case basis. Students are generally between the ages of 16 and 21.
Currently there are about 30 students from Dawson County who are a part of the program in other counties. From 2007 until now, 197 Dawson County students have been through the program and seven graduates from the 2016 class were enrolled.
Mountain Education Charter High School was established in 1993 and now operates 13 sites throughout Georgia. Dawson County will make the 14th location.