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House slashes tech school funding

 

House slashes tech school funding


By Jocelyn Brumbaugh
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013 6:10 PM EST

The funding for the Camden County campus of Altamaha Technical College (ATC) failed to make it into the state House budget in Tuesday's legislative session, leaving the fate of the project in the Senate's hands.

Many local officials were optimistic after Gov. Nathan Deal included $15.93 million in his 2014 budget in January for the construction of the Camden campus of ATC, especially after the funding was included in 2011's budget but failed to make it to a final draft. ATC currently operates out of space at the College of Coastal Georgia campus in Kingsland.

Road construction had even started around the potential site on Harrietts Bluff Road off Interstate 95 Exit 7, with the Joint Development Authority approving the donation of the land to the state at its Feb. 22 meeting, along with setting a utility installation deadline for the City of Kingsland of July 1. According to ATC's official website, student enrollment at the Camden County campus was expected to start in late 2013.

 

Camden County has expressed a need for its own technical college branch for quite some time. An independent campus would give more options to students graduating from Camden's public school system or even military personnel at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base who are interested in further or specialized training.

State Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) said he has been holding discussions with Senate leaders to ensure that the campus funding isn't forgotten in the Senate's budget.

Ligon said he had conversations about the need for the ATC funding with Sen. Jack Hill, who is also the appropriations chairman; Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer and Senate Majority Leader Ronnie Chance. He also said he placed a call to Ron Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia, and is waiting for his response.

Ligon said he also spoke about the matter with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, saying that Cagle "recognizes the need of a technical school" in Camden County.

Ligon said the main problem in budgeting for the state is the current economic struggle. He said that the state cut 3 percent across all departments with the exception of education and health care.

"The downturn in the economy has hurt our resources," he said.

With less than 10 days left in the legislative session, Ligon said he plans on pushing for the reallocation of the technical school funding.

"I'm working very hard to include it in the Senate," he said. "It's going to take a little time to work through."

 

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