Cagle joins Central's birthday party

By ALEX McRAE alex@newnan.com Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was in Newnan Tuesday to help wish the Central Educational Center a happy 10th birthday and praise the Coweta County School System's pioneering charter school, which is now recognized as a national model for education success. Cagle was speaker at the December "Eggs & Issues" breakfast, presented by the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce. The CEC celebration included the presentation of a custom-made cake and the singing of "Happy Birthday."
Mark Whitlock, CEO of the CEC, opened the program with remarks about the founding of the CEC. Whitlock praised former Coweta School Superintendent Richard Brooks, who was in attendance. Whitlock said Brooks' unwavering vision to create a new model for integrated education led to the CEC's founding and ultimate success. Whitlock also recognized current Coweta School Superintendent Blake Bass and Dr. Steve Barker, who will replace Bass this spring. Whitlock said continued input and support from senior school administration remains critical to CEC's success. Whitlock recognized others -- including Newnan resident Dr. Joe Harless -- who helped create the CEC's educational model and oversee its original implementation. Chad Ramey, a Northgate student who studies technology at the CEC, spoke briefly. Ramey praised the CEC, saying the school "gives students everything they need to succeed and then expects them to do so." Cagle opened his remarks by reminiscing about the inception of the CEC and praising Whitlock for "creating a roadmap that made this happen." Cagle noted that years ago schools like the CEC were referred to as trade schools or technical schools, but that the concept has drastically changed. He noted that because of the technical and career training and college courses available, that CEC graduates will "make twice as much as those with a high school degree." "If you want educational excellence," Cagle said, "the key is designing a program around student needs." Cagle said the CEC program continues to excel because it offers programs "that are relevant to students." Cagle noted one of Georgia's greatest challenges is job creation and said the CEC and other institutions following the CEC model make Georgia more competitive by supplying a well-trained, highly skilled work force for potential employers and new business looking to locate in Georgia. Cagle concluded by saying, "Every child has purpose and value and should be given every chance possible to follow the American dream." Coweta's delegation to the Georgia General Assembly spoke briefly and outlined what they believed will be the most pressing items on state lawmakers' 2011 agenda. Rep. Billy Horne said the session will be dominated by budget talks, and lawmakers will have to trim from $1 billion to $1.3 billion from next year's spending to balance the budget as required by law. Horne said redistricting will also be a major project, with legislators expected to redraw voting districts for the state House and Senate and redraw the state's U.S. congressional map to reflect population shifts and the possible addition of a new congressional seat. Rep. Lynn Smith agreed budget and redistricting will dominate the 2011 session. Smith also said a resolution must be reached in the ongoing water dispute between Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Smith said all three states have new governors and getting everyone up to speed could slow the negotiations. Sen. Mitch Seabaugh said he expects an effort to overturn vetoes issued by outgoing Gov. Sonny Perdue. One Perdue veto killed legislative efforts to adopt a line-item budget process. Another veto killed a bill that would give legislators more input into creating revenue estimates for upcoming fiscal years.


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