Career Academy at SFCC
For many years, Highlands County high school students have come to the SFCC Highlands Campus to enroll in technical education programs, earning dual enrollment credit for their college-level coursework. These same students, averaging about 120 per year, are offered transportation to the campus by the school district and returned to their high school for other classes that are required for high school graduation.
The Career Academy at SFCC is intended to allow these same students and others to stay at the college throughout the day, taking their high school classes at the SFCC Highlands Campus. The students would enroll in technical education programs, pursuing an associate in applied science degree or technical certificate for half of the day, morning or afternoon, and then attend their high school classes for the other half of the day. The high school classes would be taught by high school teachers based at the SFCC campus. The technical program faculty are associated with SFCC. A facility, Building L at the SFCC Highlands Campus, is being renovated for the high school component of the Career Academy. The technical classes are already established at the SFCC Highlands Campus.
The types of programs that will be offered to Career Academy students are Auto Collision Technology, Auto Services Technology, Electronics Technology, Network Support Services, Drafting Technology, Food Management and Production Services, Medical Secretarial/Office Systems, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Cosmetology (limited access), and Dental Assisting (limited access).
As everyone realizes, the economy of Florida is in a slump. State revenues and school funding for the coming year will be lower than the current year, and schools and colleges are expected to provide education for more students with less funding to pay for it. Obviously, school and college administrators are required by their boards to prioritize their planned expenditures, spending their limited resources on those programs and activities that would benefit the most students.
The opening of the Career Academy may be delayed for a year for these reasons. It is expensive to start a new program. New faculty must be hired, facilities need to be prepared, and supplies and equipment must be purchased. In this case, most of the expense is the responsibility of the Highlands County School Board. The SFCC technical programs that these high school students would take already exist, but the high school teachers based at the college campus would need to be hired or transferred.
Whether to open the Career Academy next fall or in the fall of 2009 is an important decision, one that the superintendent and the School Board have to consider very carefully. We at SFCC are prepared either way. If the opening of the Academy is delayed or not, we’re ready to work with the School Board to make it happen and to ensure the educational experience for these students is relevant and rigorous, the best it can be to prepare these young people for further education, careers, and fulfilling lives.