MACON, Ga. — A statewide charter school has opened a Bibb County location to help reduce dropout rates in the area.
Foothills Education Charter serves 11 counties, primarily in northeast Georgia, but enrollment is open to anyone in Central Georgia.
Regional Director Melissa Griffin from Foothills Education Charter High School says their system works for a particular type of student.
"Students come to us with all kinds of situations, all types of backgrounds, many of our students are behind in their coursework, and they're losing hope. They're beginning to feel like they are not able to graduate," Griffin said.
They're an accredited state charter system aiming to help cut down on dropouts. They do it by offering evening hours rather than the traditional school schedule.
"What we're able to do is pull them away from the environment where they don't feel successful and offer an alternative," Griffin said.
Bibb County Schools Chief of Staff Keith Simmons visited Foothills' sites in northeast Georgia and says he saw it could benefit students in Central Georgia
"We don't have a very large dropout percentage, but I'll be honest with you, any student who drops out of one of our high schools or any high schools in the country -- that's a problem," Simmons said.
Griffin says it's a collaborative effort.
"We're able to work with school districts and use their facilities. We're able to work with school districts to hire their teachers and work with us," Griffin said.
"It is not considered to be an affiliate or any association with the school district, yet we just provide them space," Simmons said.
Griffin says anyone in the area can enroll.
"We have a state-wide attendance zone, which mean a student does not have to live in Bibb County to come to our school. They can come to us from surrounding counties," Griffin said.
Foothills has graduated over 1,000 students since it started in 2015.
"We found that the school districts that we partner with where a Foothills site is located has seen an increase in their graduation rate," Griffin said.
Simmons says it helps out everyone involved.
"It's a win for the local school system, and it's a win for the local student or the local adult who seeks to get their diploma," Simmons said.
Foothills' classes are held Monday to Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m.
Bibb County's SOAR Academy alternative education is also located here at the W.S. Hutchings building off Riverside Drive, but the two are entirely different programs.
“SOAR Academy is an alternative program within the Bibb County School District where students are placed as a disciplinary consequence or to catch up on credits through the Personalized Learning Center program.”
Foothills is its own state-commissioned charter school, which simply provides high school education courses outside traditional school hours.
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