For the non-traditional student, there is now a new path to a high school diploma -- Coastal Plains Charter High School.
CPCHS will begin serving Candler County students in July of this year, offering at-risk students an opportunity to get their diploma in their own time and at their own pace.
The program will be housed in the north end of the Board of Education Building, with school hours of 4-9 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
The course offerings are online, but teachers will be present to facilitate the learning process.
The charter high school is not a function of the Candler County Board of Education and is not governed by the local BOE, although there is local representation on the CPCHS board, including Superintendent Dr. Bubba Longgrear.
However, Longgrear said, local teachers will be utilized to staff the program.
The charter high school targets students who have dropped out of high school, who are not over 21, as well as students still in school who are at risk of dropping out.
“We are reaching out to students who did not graduate, offering them a second chance to get their diploma, and looking in the school at students who are at risk of dropping out -- students who are not involved in the high school experience.
“If a student is in school and not in any club or sports, they are not maximizing their time in the traditional setting,” Longgrear said.
“With our goal in workforce development, if a student is not capitalizing on the experience, we can offer this alternative and help them find work during the day to help prepare them for life after school.”
Additionally, he said, “This helps young mothers who can’t go to school because they do not have daycare. If may be that they have parents who work but who can help with the baby in the evening while they come to school.”
Metter High Principal John Jordan and Counselor Ros Ferrell are already reaching out to current and former students they believe will be a good fit for the program.
They will start with students as early as 9th grade -- after they have tried the traditional path, of course.
“Our goal is to have them give 9th grade a run, to give high school a chance, to try to get them involved and maximize their school experience. But then, if they are not getting involved, if they are not utilizing their time wisely, we have this option,” he said.
Once the student completes the program, they will receive a diploma from CPCHS.
How is the program funded?
No local tax dollars are involved in the program, which is offered free to the students, Longgrear said.
nstead, funding comes from the students’ state FTE (full time equivalent) funding of $5,000 a year. The local school system will not receive those FTE funds so, in essence, will be losing that money if it is an at-risk student who withdraws from MHS for CPCHS.
But the loss of those funds, Longgrear said, is secondary to the opportunity to help these students become productive members of society.
“If we lose them, they are a burden to the community,” he said. “We will give up that FTE to make them part of the work force, to help them find jobs -- to help them learn that work is rewarding.”
Longgrear first began researching a charter high school program several years ago after he learned of Mountain Education Charter High School. Further research revealed a program closer to home, Foothills Charter High School in Madison.
After learning that Glynn County was looking for a similar program, Longgrear said the process began to form Coastal Plains Charter High School, with Foothills Charter serving as the fiscal agent during the first year.
Glynn County has already begun serving students and presently has over 100 enrolled in the program, Longgrear said.
As the program develops, Longgrear said the hope is that CPCHS will also draw students from Evans and Bulloch County. A similar program is in the development stage for Toombs, Vidalia City, Montgomery and Treutlen, he added.
For more information about CPCHS, call Candler County Board of Education, 912-685-5713.