The THINC College and Career Academy Board explored the academy’s future home at West Georgia Technical College on Tuesday.
Architect Skip Smith is close to the final design for the THINC facility, which will occupy 31,000 square feet of the West Georgia Tech main campus off Orchard Hill Road, THINC CEO Kathy Carlisle said. There have been a few tweaks over the last few weeks, including the elimination of a slide planned for the main lobby and consolidating three labs into two larger labs.
However, Carlisle expected the board to have finalized designs at its next meeting. She said that there is a hurdle, because the preliminary estimate for work is currently about $1 million over budget. However, she said the plans will not be changed until the group talks to a contractor.
“When we get a contractor’s rough estimate, then we’ll come back and see if we need to modify,” Carlisle said. “Right now we’re going with our dream.”
Carlisle said the school system also has donated seats from the former Unity Elementary School to use for THINC’s lecture hall, saving costs.
The academy is planned to open fall 2015.
“I can’t wait for the first bus to pull up full of kids,” said Chris Williams, principal for THINC.
THINC actually began limited operations in the school system on Friday, taking over operations of work-based learning with about 50 high school students currently enrolled. Williams will be in charge of connecting students in the program with employers in the community that are relevant to their chosen career pathway. He already has started working with them on soft skills.
“He read them the riot act for being late,” Carlisle told the group with a laugh. “… We’re trying to drive home those soft skills right off the bat.”
Williams said he’s so far worked with the students on topics like punctuality and the importance of a firm handshake.
“I have high expectations for the kids,” he said. “If they gave me a limp-fist handshake, I’d make them redo it. ‘That’s not how we do it, come on.’”
Carlisle said they are treating work-based learning much like a business and trying to project a business atmosphere for the students. They want the students to see themselves as professionals and project that.
Williams also will be working with dual enrollment students attending West Georgia Tech for welding and certified nursing assistant programs.