Dalton Public Schools must be prepared to change as it looks at a future featuring the twin challenges of tighter budgets and more students.
On Monday, the board of education will have the chance to jump-start this change in a big way.
Board of Education members are scheduled to vote at a 6:30 p.m. meeting at City Hall on working toward a plan that would include re-purposing some or all of the current buildings in the district. While no decisions have been made, the board’s directive to the superintendent could leave open the possibility of exploring plans to rezone students and reconfigure grade levels.
Driving this need to look at moving students is the fact that at 1,520 students, Dalton Middle School is at 103 percent of the capacity it was designed for, and the numbers are forecast to surpass 1,600 next year and get close to 1,700 the year after that.
But to make changes at the middle school, the school system will have to make some structural changes to its organization at all levels to meet the needs of all our kids.
To further complicate matters, Dalton has to do this without adding new buildings since they are not needed or financially viable.
We feel there are a few scenarios that we could all think about that would help bring about meaningful change in the district.
For starters, we could take all the sixth graders and move them back into their home elementary schools. These kids are going through such emotional and physical changes already that giving them one more year in a school they were nurtured in since kindergarten makes sense.
We could then create one Pre-K school in the previous sixth-grade space at the middle school. This would provide a very nice learning space and all the kids could get a great start on their education in one location.
Next, there seems to be a lot of room at City Park Elementary. Could that school not house kids all the way through the eight grade and become a K-8 school for that attendance zone?
That would leave the seventh graders at the current middle school and we could either leave the eight-graders there too or possible move them as well.
With the high school moving more students to Morris Innovative School could we carve out an eighth-grade campus at Dalton High and have a nice transition into high school?
These are just some of the ideas we have that we hope gets you talking and thinking.
We must all recognize that staying the same is not in the district’s best interest and will not happen. Submit ideas to the newspaper for publication and to your school board representative. Most of all get involved and get supportive.
We are all in this together for the good of our children’s education and our community’s future.