Photo by Heather Middleton
By Johnny Jackson
Gov. Nathan Deal announced this week his signing of the state's Fiscal Year 2012 Budget, which includes nine line-item vetoes. Not among those rejected items is funding for a Southern Crescent Technical College satellite campus, adjacent to Henry County High School, in McDonough.
"The line-item vetoes in the FY2012 budget were due to unfunded projects that leave taxpayers on the hook," said Jen Talaber, spokeswoman for Gov. Deal. "However, Southern Crescent's project was fully funded in FY2010. Since then, the college has raised enough money to fund the first phase of construction. The bond package completes funding for the second phase."
Deal included the funding for the campus in his budget proposal, when he took office in January. In April, lawmakers in the State House and Senate voted to include $5.46 million in the FY12 Budget to help pay for the first phase of construction on the satellite facility.
"Working together, the General Assembly and I crafted a conservative budget that reduced the size of government, funded our state's education, health-care, transportation and public-safety priorities, and avoided any tax increases," said Deal. "Georgians can be proud of the great work done this year by their legislators."
State Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) said the funding was hard-earned, locally, by supporters of expanding Henry County's educational opportunities. "It has been a huge effort on the part of the major stakeholders in Henry County," said Jones, whose 10th District straddles DeKalb and Henry counties.
"There are a lot of people in the county that strongly supported this, [and] they've worked on this issue for years," he said. "It is extremely rewarding to me and very gratifying to hear that the governor signed this very important piece of legislation," he continued. "It means that Henry County is in a much better position to attract industry to our county, as well as provide them with a well-trained workforce."
Local school officials lauded the governor's action, as they move a step closer to the construction of another post-secondary option in Henry County, which is home to other higher-learning satellite facilities for DeVry University, Mercer University, and the University of Phoenix.
"We are pleased and excited about the inclusion of funding for Southern Crescent Technical College in the FY12 budget," said Henry County Schools Superintendent Ethan Hildreth. "Henry County Schools looks forward to continuing our close partnership with Southern Crescent [Tech] as we provide increasing rigor, relevance, and opportunity for our students."
"I'm extremely excited that we've finally been able to get this through," added John Uesseler, Henry's coordinator of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) Programs.
Uesseler said that, for the past several years, Henry County has been one of the largest suppliers of students to Southern Crescent Tech.
"I think this will offer multiple opportunities to students in Henry County," he said, "and will allow them the chance to earn post-secondary credit, while they're in high school, further preparing them for life after high school."
Southern Crescent Tech currently offers some courses in business management and human resource management at Henry County's Academy for Advanced Studies, according to school system officials. The Academy, which is located on the Henry County High School campus, is a consortium of area higher-education institutions that offers joint-enrollment and satellite-campus courses.
The technical college will build its 15,000-square-foot classroom facility on land donated by the Henry County Board of Education. The college is expected to commit $2.5 million to the first phase of the construction project.
The master plan for the property was drawn up by the Atlanta-based firm, Lord, Aeck & Sargent Architecture, according to Southern Crescent Tech President Randall Peters.
"This is an exciting time for Southern Crescent Technical College, and for Henry County students," Peters said earlier. "And I look forward to the next phase of this project, which will be completing the plans and selecting a general contractor."
On the net:
Southern Crescent Technical College: www.sctech.edu