Dalton school board honors students for recent achievements at Monday meeting

The Dalton Board of Education recognized several students for various achievements, approved the 2019 fiscal year financial report and accepted a gift from an estate during their meeting Monday night.

In addition, the board formally accepted a federal grant of nearly $322,000 to operate a 21st Century Community Learning Center, which officially opened last week, in conjunction with the City of Refuge in Dalton. This is the first year of the grant, which runs five years and will be $322,000 annually.

The board must officially accept the grant each year of its duration. The community learning center serves youth during non-school hours, and its main goals are student achievement, youth development and family engagement.

In other business:

• The ending fund balance for Dalton Public Schools for fiscal year 2019, which concluded June 30, is $4.3 million more than the beginning fund balance for fiscal year 2019 at $19.8 million. Actual revenues were $1.4 million, or 1.8%, more than the budgeted, while actual expenditures were $3 million, or 3.7%, under budget.

Quality Basic Education (QBE) state formula funding and interest earnings account for a significant percentage of the better-than-expected revenues, while savings in expenses were due primarily to open positions and one-time relief in the June employer contribution to the state health benefit plan, said Theresa Perry, the district's chief financial officer. The fund balance puts the district in a favorable position as it prepares to open a new building, Hammond Creek middle school, in 2021, school officials said.

• A month into this school year, DPS currently has 7,903 students enrolled, down 16 from this time last year, said Superintendent Tim Scott. The attendance rate is 97.4%, and the district has 151 "new-to-country students," roughly 100 of whom are enrolled in Morris Innovative's Newcomers Academy.

• As has been the case for several years, a group of Dalton High School students will travel to Germany this May and June for an immersion program, after the board approved the trip Monday. Then, in the fall of 2020, their German counterparts will travel to Dalton to be hosted by the students who visited them during summer.

• Also Monday, the board approved the sale of a property at 430 Lester Ave. for a cost of $50,000, pending the property appraising at an amount equal to or above the purchase price, and that the superintendent be authorized to sign all required documents relative to the sale. Keith Bond, who died in 1996, included in his will that, upon death of his wife, Polly, who died last year, the property be sold, and funds raised be donated to five different agencies in the Dalton area, including the Roan Street School Visitation Teacher's Fund for the Needy, which was designated to receive 20% of funds raised through the sale.

• Early in Monday's meeting, the board recognized a plethora of students, including Morgan Hurlock and Austin Rogers, both of DHS, who earned spots in the Governor's Honors Program this summer. The camp was at Berry College in Rome, and both Hurlock and Rogers were nominated by the district.

They were able to meet — and collaborate with — students from around the state who shared their passions, said Hurlock, who majored in social studies at the GHP. At the camp, attendees "learn for the sake of learning."

Hurlock minored in musical theater, which included a group performance, she said. She was "grateful to bond with people from outside my major."

Rogers minored in songwriting and majored in physics, he said. The camp gave him an opportunity to learn and grow, which is "irreplaceable."

Additionally, Jairo Cruz Flores, a student at Morris Innovative, picked up second-place in the state for his art in the Latin American Association's art contest. The theme was portraying the experiences of undocumented immigrants. He also received a $1,000 check.

Furthermore, DHS had three boys and two girls attend American Legion Boys State and Girls State, respectively, an educational program that allows students to learn about and build a government. Guadalupe Diaz, Jonathan Holmes, Ryan Laruy, Selena Paniagua and Jessie Sanchez, are all members of JROTC as well.

The district also feted 70-plus AP scholars, AP scholars with honors, AP scholars with distinction, and National AP Scholars Monday. The four National AP Scholars — Surbhi Bhatter, Anthony Calderon-Schuler, Jonathan Shaheen and Jackson Wright — all averaged scores of at least four on their AP exams and scored four-plus on eight AP exams.

Students weren't the only ones applauded Monday, either, as DHS boy's soccer coach Matt Cheaves was celebrated for being named Top Drawer Soccer's national coach of the year. Cheaves led the Catamounts to an undefeated season and a state title this spring.

The next scheduled school board meeting is Oct. 7 at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers of City Hall.

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