I am hopeful that this new reconfiguration will decrease the number of students in each of our secondary schools and allow us to expand the academic and extracurricular opportunities available to students.
In 18 months, Dalton Public Schools will open its first new school building in 15 years. At the same time, students from grades six through 12 will experience the grade reconfiguration of all of our secondary schools. By adding Hammond Creek Middle School into our facility inventory, I believe we will finally be moving in the right direction to reduce the large student populations at Dalton Middle and Dalton High schools.
Thanks to the generosity of city taxpayers, Hammond Creek Middle School will open in August 2021 to approximately 1200 sixth and seventh grade students. The 198,000 square foot building, currently under construction on Brooker Drive off the North Bypass, is being paid for with funds from the General Obligation Bond passed by voters in November 2017.
The existing Dalton Middle School building will be repurposed to house all Dalton students in grades eight and nine. The new name of that facility has yet to be determined.
At the same time, Dalton High School will serve students in grades 10 through 12. The school will remain a comprehensive high school and continue to offer the International Baccalaureate Program, Advanced Placement, dual enrollment, and will have specific pathways to include the JROTC Program, Fine Arts Academy, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy and Culinary Arts. The school will continue to offer the full complement of extracurriculars including athletics as well as clubs and organizations.
Morris Innovative High School will close its doors at the end of May 2021. While the school began as a way to help those students who were at-risk of not graduating high school by providing an alternative schedule for credit recovery, it became much more and successfully served a large number of students. Over its ten years of operation, the school graduated a total of 610 students to date. Before the school closes, I expect the school will have graduated closer to 800 students. When I think about that number of young people who have received a high school diploma from Morris Innovative High school, it is clear that the school was needed and successful in its mission.
In August of 2021, the district will open a new choice high school housed in what is now the sixth-grade wing at Dalton Middle School. To make the best use of the space at the Dalton Middle School facility, the wing will be remodeled to provide classrooms for the specific pathways offered and to meet the needs of high school students. The school will be an option that will offer a smaller environment and specific career pathways. It will offer a complement of rigorous academic programing, such as Advanced Placement, dual enrollment and core content academics. Students will also be able to take art, chorus and band as electives, and classes in career pathways including Healthcare, Teaching as a Profession, Early Childhood Education, Translation Academy, Criminal Justice and Leadership/Entrepreneurship. Extracurriculars, including some athletics, will be offered at the school based on student interest and total school enrollment.
It is our goal to have two excellent high schools that will both provide rigorous academic programming and relevant career pathways that will prepare students college, career and civic life.
A great deal of change is on the horizon for Dalton Public Schools. We expect to name the principals of the four secondary schools before the end of this school year. Beginning in September, the real work will begin on staffing, scheduling, transportation, and, most importantly, communication with all of our stakeholders—students, parents, staff and the community.
Change can be hard and messy, but I am hopeful that this new reconfiguration will decrease the number of students in each of our secondary schools and allow us to expand the academic and extracurricular opportunities available to students.