Writer: Roger Nielsen
Marietta City Schools will break ground this year on an ambitious college and career academy project that developed from a workforce needs assessment the Carl Vinson Institute of Government coordinated.
The project centerpiece is a $12 million addition to Marietta High School, funded by school sales tax revenue and a $3.1 million state grant the Institute helped the Marietta school district secure.
The three-story structure will house classes for career pathways like business accounting and biotech sciences, according to Tim Brown, Marietta City Schools’ Career, Technical and Agricultural Education director. “The whole process will turn our entire campus into one college and career academy,” Brown said.
College and career academies are specialized charter schools designed to enhance training in high-demand career skills by building partnerships among local school boards, business and industry leaders and technical colleges. Marietta’s CTAE program already offers well over a dozen career pathways, and the expansion will provide room for additional high-demand career training programs that the Cobb Workforce Partnership identified as priorities.
The Cobb County Chamber of Commerce established the Cobb Workforce Partnership in 2015 to bring together educators and leaders from a cross-section of business, industry and government to define key workforce training needs. The Institute provided technical assistance to the partnership, which made developing a superior college and career academy an important long-term goal.
“The Cobb Workforce Partnership really helped solidify what we needed to be offering to our students and the industries that need to be involved,” Brown said.
Institute faculty worked with the partnership and stakeholders such as Chattahoochee Technical College to coordinate planning and help Marietta City Schools successfully apply for a project grant through the Technical College System of Georgia. Matched with local funding, the grant supports construction, startup costs and initial staffing.
The Institute supported the detailed grant application process with project management, research, facilitation and related services, according to faculty member Greg Wilson.
“We helped the chamber develop a vision for the Cobb Workforce Partnership. The partnership’s top long-term priority was to build a world-class college and career academy, and Marietta City Schools asked for our assistance to get to the finish line,” Wilson said. “Our goal was to help them get the grant to help fund construction and lay the foundation for a successful college and career academy.”
Marietta City Schools Superintendent Grant Rivera describes the Marietta High School College and Career Academy as a catalyst for school and community transformation. “It builds on a shared commitment among education, business and community leaders to champion the development of the modern workforce and connect students with workplace opportunities to employ their unique talents,” Rivera said.