New Construction, Grade Reconfiguration To Provide More Room to Learn
By Dr. Tim Scott, superintendent of Dalton Public Schools.
It was a day many people had long anticipated. It was the realization of untold hours of meetings, planning, research, study and the best thinking of past and current board members, superintendents, administrators, staff, parents and the community. It was at least 10 years in the making. Following remarks from several people and a few shovels of dirt, the ceremonial groundbreaking of Hammond Creek Middle School set in motion the construction of the first new school built by Dalton Public Schools since 2005.
The addition of a new school will provide some much needed relief to the largest middle and high school in the area—Dalton Middle School and Dalton High School. When Hammond Creek Middle School opens in August 2021, the district will reconfigure the grade levels served by the secondary schools. Hammond Creek will serve students in grades 6 and 7 while the existing Dalton Middle School will be renamed and serve students in grades 8 and 9. We will have two high schools that will serve students in grades 10 through 12. The purpose of the reconfiguration is to lower the number of students served by each of these schools; thereby, providing a more conducive and safe learning environment.
In May 2021, Morris Innovative High School will close and the Fort Hill campus will no longer serve as a school. A new magnet high school of choice serving students in grades 10 through 12 is currently under development, and will open in August 2021 located in a wing of the existing Dalton Middle School. Though we are still in the planning stages, I expect the new magnet school will feature some of the existing programs/career pathways now offered at Morris Innovative High School and Dalton High School, and include new options not currently available to our students. Dalton High School will also serve students in grades 10 through 12 and have its own set of academies and career pathways different from the new magnet school.
Students will have the opportunity to choose the school that best aligns with their interests and post-secondary plans. I am excited that we will be expanding the opportunities to prepare all of our students to be successful in the global workplace and dynamic economy. Capitalizing on the skills and talents of our young people who will enter the workforce over the next few years is the secret to economic growth. It is imperative that students graduate prepared to pursue post-secondary education or technical training as well as possess the soft skills and abilities required to compete in an evolving job market.
Many people have played a role in getting the district to this point in its history. I understand that past and present Dalton Board of Education members and the district's administration have discussed numerous options for addressing the growing enrollment over the last 20 years. All of those individuals played a part in getting us to the groundbreaking for a new school. I would like to thank the previous board of education members who proposed a general obligation bond to fund the new school, the city council for allowing the referendum to be placed on the ballot, and all those individuals who supported the passage of the bond. I also want to thank the taxpayers of Dalton who are funding the construction of the school that will provide much needed space for students to learn.
For the next 30 months, my team and I will be working to ensure that the needs of students are at the forefront of all the decisions we make as we plan for Hammond Creek Middle School, the new magnet high school, and the reconfiguration of all of our secondary schools. As the plans come together, we are committed to proactively sharing that information with our staff, students, parents and community. It is an exciting time to be a part of Dalton Public Schools and the Dalton community!