by: Hatcher Hurd
BOE makes bold offer to woo Gwinnett Tech
December 22, 2010ATLANTA – In a Dec. 16 letter to Sharon J. Bartels, president of Gwinnett Technical College, Fulton County Superintendent of Schools Cindy Loe made a dynamic offer of a partnership with the Fulton Schools System.
Knowing Gwinnett Tech is looking for a place to expand in North Fulton, the Board of Education is prepared to offer all or part of the 40-acre site of the former Milton High School on Academy Street in Alpharetta (valued at $10 million) for Tech's North Fulton campus.
Bartels came to North Fulton this summer seeking such offers from the communities – in effect looking for ways to defray the cost of such a campus. Bartels had hoped for 100 acres, but the hope is the school could make do with 40 acres.
In return the BOE would like office space and classroom space in a no-cost, long-term lease arrangement. Loe also argues persuasively that a Gwinnett Tech would find a good fit with the BOE's Fulton Institute of Technology, a new initiative integrating the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"The Fulton Institute of Technology is a technical high school that fuses practical and virtual learning opportunities to create a technology-rich learning environment," Loe wrote.
The appeal of such a course of study would be to offer students the chance to be either college or career ready on graduation.
Co-locating with Gwinnett Tech would provide students a direct track into Tech's programs, and conversely, would create a convenient feeder system of students into Tech – a symbiotic relationship that could enhanced with dual enrollment classes much like Advanced Placement which gives students college credit for work done in high school.
With journeyman or apprentice relationships with technological courses such as Energy Systems, Digital Design Technology, Manufacturing and CISCO Systems, Fulton Institute students would already be dovetailing into courses Gwinnett Tech offers.
The BOE is studying plans for the demolition of old Milton and construction of a new facility. The BOE is offering to convey all property rights to Tech in return for it undertaking the costs of demolition and environmental mitigation.
Fulton Schools would also want the classrooms and office space in a new facility built by Gwinnett Tech and access to amenities as parking, public green space and other instructional space.
Preparatory to construction, the BOE would offer space in the existing facility to give Gwinnett Tech the chance to begin building a base of students in North Fulton at a "nominal cost" while the school designs and phases in construction of the new building.
Loe said the BOE's offer could be combined with other inducements both public and private that Gwinnett Tech is seeking to enable it to open a North Fulton campus.
The campus would be a plum for North Fulton, and Gwinnett Tech knows it. Likewise, North Fulton knows it is Tech's first choice for a site to expand its campus. Bartels, in making her pitch to North Fulton a few months earlier, said their evaluations show North Fulton would be a "student-rich" environment that would help it serve the highest number of Georgia residents.