Mountain Education Charter High School is coming to Forsyth County.
The school, which has 11 locations serving more than 30 counties, will replace Forsyth’s current Academy @ Night program in January, the board of education announced during its work session Thursday.
“While we’ve been providing a good academic program at night, sometimes those students need that hand held, they need a few other things to make certain that they do, in fact, stay in school and get that diploma and MEC is designed to do that,” said Cindy Salloum, the system’s chief accountability officer.
The school, known as MEC, will open at the facility next to the Board of Education offices on Dahlonega Highway. School hours will be 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Students can attend the school on either a full- or part-time basis, meaning they will either be an MEC student or they will be enrolled in a Forsyth County school, using MEC courses to supplement their schedule.
MEC, which began in 2007, has increased in size, reach and number of graduates, with more than 260 in May. Four of them were from Forsyth. Programs include dropout recovery and prevention and initial credit for students looking to attend high school at night.
MEC will run in conjunction with Forsyth Academy, according to officials. But unlike the academy, which has specific enrollment dates, it offers open enrollment, so a student can attend at any point during a school year.
The curriculum will be self-paced, with both book and computer learning options and low student-teacher ratios of about 14 students per teacher.
MEC regional director Tracy Sanford, a former Forsyth school system employee, said he plans to retain the local staff at the Academy @ Night.
In addition to teachers, the school will provide students with individual counseling, career planning, home visits and a group for new moms.
For Academy@ Night students, Salloum said “they’re not going to see a great deal of difference in what they normally do,” with the exception that they will have more social services and more flexibility.
School Superintendent Buster Evans hailed the partnership.
“It’s an opportunity for students that they don’t currently have because it’s the type of programming that goes above and beyond what we currently do,” Evans said, noting there is no increased cost to the district and MEC gets to expand into a strong system. “Three years down the road, we’ll look back and we’ll say we went from an 87 percent cohort graduation rate to a 95 percent.”