Public PK-12 School District in Dalton, Georgia

Dalton Public Schools News

Dalton Public Schools to Add Two New 21st Century Learning Center Programs for Junior High School and High School Students

Dalton Public Schools was recently awarded two new 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) grants by the Georgia Department of Education. The district will receive a total of $2,077,910 over five years ($1,233,354 for the junior high school program and $844,556 for the high school program). 

In 2019, the district received its first 21st CCLC grant and established Kid City, an afterschool program that provides academic and enrichment activities for elementary students. 

After seeing the program’s success at the elementary level, Dalton Public Schools applied for four additional grants to establish programs for secondary students. The grant application process was rigorous and extremely competitive, with less than 30 grants awarded across the entire state. Dalton Public Schools has received two grants, and will establish Cat City for students attending Dalton Junior High School (8th – 9th grade) and Cat University for student attending Dalton High School or The Dalton Academy (10th – 12th grade).

Malisa Pedro, director of Dalton Public Schools’ 21st CCLC Programs, said that both of these new programs will focus on academics, enrichment, family engagement and social-emotional development. 

“We’ll also be teaching a lot of life skills,” Pedro said. “Since it’s geared towards the older students, we’ll teach financial literacy, exposure to new careers, basic life skills like automotive repair, cooking on a budget, things that they’re going to need to know as they go off into life.” 

At the end of the 2021-22 school year, the Work-Based Learning program at Dalton High School and The Dalton Academy surveyed graduating seniors asking them what skills they wished they had learned in high school. 

“It was those survey results that helped us plan some of our enrichment activities,” Pedro said. “So many of them said financial-based topics, like they don’t know how to do their own taxes, they don’t know about saving or budgeting, how to buy a car, things like that. Several of them also said how to do laundry or how to cook basic meals. We did use those survey results in the planning of our development and enrichment activities.”  

Pedro said this program is a great fit for students who are struggling and may need extra support in their classes. Unlike summer school programs, Cat City and Cat University won’t focus on retaking classes students have previously failed. These programs will help support students so that they are able to succeed in classes the first time they take them. 

“The focus is not going to be on credit recovery,” Pedro said. “It’s really to help kids obtain their credits and not failing the first time.” 
At the junior high school, Pedro said she knows that the eighth and ninth grade can be key transitional years. Cat City will help its students as they transition into high school. 

“Ninth grade is a hard transition year for students because every single class earns them credits for graduation,” Pedro said. “For the ninth graders who are already struggling in the first six weeks, this is a way to be proactive.” 

Pedro said she sees these programs as a great fit for students who are in need of extra support to pass their classes. Students attending Cat City and Cat University will receive targeted instruction and tutoring every day from certified teachers who can help them with their homework and classwork. 

“The ideal candidates are students who are just needing a little bit of extra support to pass their classes,” Pedro said. “We’re going to want teachers and school staff to recommend students and share the information with students. Helping students graduate on time is one of the biggest priorities of these programs, in general.”

The Cat City and Cat University programs will start on September 7. If you are interested in enrolling your student in one of these programs, reach out to your school counselor or to Malisa Pedro at 

The programs are also working to hire staff including certified counselors, enrichment activity coordinators, and certified teachers. Job openings are listed online at 

Finally, the 21st CCLC grant programs are looking to establish an Advisory Council made up of community members. If you are interested in joining the Advisory Council, there will be a Public Meeting on Monday, August 15 at City Park School before the board meeting scheduled at 5:30 p.m. For more information, please reach out to Malisa Pedro at