Originally created 06/26/04

Computer careers are top pick for new school



The public has spoken, and it seems most people want to see majors dealing with careers in computers at the new $16 million Richmond County Technical Careers Magnet School.

A survey of parents, educators, business leaders and the public shows a heavy interest in information technology, which can churn out Web designers, computer engineers, database specialists and technical communicators. The survey showed 79 percent supported such a major, the highest percentage among 18 choices.

The top pick didn't surprise school board member Helen Minchew, who toured magnet schools throughout the Southeast as part of the planning process.

"It's such current technology that so many people are interested in it," she said. "I don't know anybody who operates a business or at home without a computer."

Health care occupations rated second, but school officials say that subject is well covered at A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet High School. The new school, projected to open in fall 2006, could teach classes that would prepare students to transfer to A.R. Johnson.

Construction technology came in as the sixth favorite major, but it seems to be heavily favored by some businesses, Mrs. Minchew said.

"I know the building industry has said they really need students in that field and could have jobs available for them," she said.

While the school district is looking at 18 majors, the number of programs the new magnet school can offer has not been defined. But six broad areas of concentration is realistic, said Patricia Burau, the assistant superintendent for school improvement and program development.

"Many of the courses will overlap and may serve more than one program of study," she said.

A planning committee will reconvene in the fall and begin developing specifics for the new school, which will be taken to the school board for approval. The committee includes residents and business professionals from the community.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.

Survey Says

Top 10 majors the public wants to see at the new Richmond County Technical Careers Magnet School, listed with percentage who favor each subject:

1. Information technology79 percent
2. Health care occupations77 percent
3. Pre-engineering76 percent
4. Electronics75 percent
5. Graphic communications74 percent
6. Construction technology72 percent
7. Professional foods69 percent
8. Broadcast video production68 percent
9. Automotive technology66 percent
10. Heating and A/C repair64 percent
Source: Richmond County Board of Education