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December 04, 2013

Dalton Daily Citizen

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REGION REALIGNMENT Where is your favorite high school headed? Page 1B THE DAILY CITIZEN Wednesday, December 4, 2013 Online at www.daltonnow.com Dalton, Georgia Schools: 'Bad to be big'? Community, officials talk about growth BY CHRISTOPHER SMITH christophersmith@daltoncitizen.com The community is a frog in a pot of hot water, said Brian Suits, principal of Dalton Middle School. The oft-said metaphor of a frog who doesn't know it is boiling until it's too late works well when discussing the growing student enrollment at Dalton Public Schools, Suits said. Several community members and school leaders met in the Dalton High School Commons area Tuesday night to discuss the future of the school system and its impact on the community. School leaders are seeking community input on how to address their growth and are creating a committee to bring a rec- MATT HAMILTON/The Daily Citizen Danny Crutchfield, left, chairman of the Dalton Board of Education, speaks as Jim Hawkins, Dalton Public Schools superintendent, listens during a community meeting Tuesday to discuss the system's growing student enrollment. ommendation to the city school board by September 2014. School officials said they have roughly 70 nominees for the group and plan to name roughly 10 to 15 members this month. "Any idea (on dealing with enrollment) will be considered," said Danny Crutchfield, chairman of the city school board. The system has gone from 5,659 students in 2003 to about 7,700 students today. Most of that growth has been in grades 6 through 12. Dalton Middle has swelled from 1,218 in 2003 to roughly 1,700 now, while Dalton High has gone from 1,374 in 2003 to approximately 1,640 today. Both schools are reaching overcapacity, even after Dalton Middle undergoes an expansion to make room for about 60 more students. Halfway through 2018 school officials are expecting 1,841 students at the middle school and 1,939 students at the high school. Projections are not 100 percent certain, said Jennifer Phinney, director of school support. So what are the solutions being talked about? Some are saying a new high school, some are saying a new middle school, some are saying a hybrid of the two, some are saying no new school at all. ➣ Please see SCHOOLS, 6A CITY COUNCIL Dalton looks at expanding skate park BY CHARLES OLIVER charlesoliver@daltoncitizen.com Victor Cervantes, then barely 15, stood before the Dalton City Council three years ago and made the case for a public skate park. He proved so persuasive that the city had one up and running less than a year later. Now, Cervantes hopes he and his fellow skaterboarders can convince the City Council and the Parks and Recreation Commission to expand the 5,000-squarefoot skate park, which is at James Brown Park on Civic Drive. "I knew that a lot of people would use it. But I Card didn't expect so many people would use it so soon," Cervantes said Tuesday night. About two dozen skateboarders gathered at the John Davis Recreation Center to discuss the park, and there was a strong consensus that it is too small and often too crowded. "It can be dangerous at times, especially for the smaller (skateboarders)," David Parker said. Recreation Department Director Steve Card said he can empathize. "It's right outside my office," Card said. "There always seems to be someone out there, and sometimes I can look out there and there's 40 or more people out there trying to skate." Kate McAtee organized the meeting. Her 3-year-old son Jonah began skating this spring. "He really loves it, and everyone at the park has always been so helpful and so kind. They really look out for him," she said. "But it is often crowded and there are lines, and that can be difficult for a small child. I try to come in the mornings when the older guys are not there, not because of them. Like I said, they've been great. I do it for them. I don't want to hinder their experience." Card said if the park is expanded one thing they may consider is creating an area for small children and younger children learning to skate. Card said it might be easier to sell officials on the idea of expanding the park if older members of the skateboarding community would agree to help mentor younger skateboarders. "If we could announce that, I don't know, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. every other Saturday there will he someone there who will help new skaters learn not only the techniques of skating but also all of the unwritten rules and etiquette you guys expect it would show the rec commission and the City Council there's some buy-in from the skating community," he said. Forum/Viewpoints Classified Comics Crime map Crossword Dear Abby Horoscope Living Lottery Obituaries Sports 706-278-4488 MATT HAMILTON/The Daily Citizen Dalton resident Mario Orellana ollies down a set of stairs at the skate park at James Brown Park in this 2013 file photo. ➣ Please see COUNCIL, 2A 4A 4B 11A 13A 10A 11A 10A 9A 5A 12A 1-3B DALTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS Bus driver no longer employed following incident BY CHRISTOPHER SMITH christophersmith@daltoncitizen.com A school bus driver who requested police help last month to deal with students she said "were out of control" is no longer employed by First Student, the transportation company used by Dalton Public Schools. Jen Biddinger, spokeswoman for First Student, said in an email "the driver involved in this incident is no longer employed by First Student." First Student has not released the name of the driver. The company did not state whether the bus driver was fired, laid off or quit. "The safety and security of the students we transport is our core value and a responsibility we take very seriously," Biddinger's email stated. The driver pulled the bus off the road at the corner of Calhoun Street and Glenwood Avenue the afternoon of the incident on Nov. 11 and contacted a dispatcher who called 911. Dalton Police Department officers John Gurrieri and Steve Collins responded and were suspended after using cursing at the roughly 50 Dalton Middle School students on the bus. The police officers were suspended for two days without pay and required to complete 40 hours of service at local youth programs, according to police officials. They also received a written report in their personnel file and will undergo more verbal communication training. Dalton Public Schools officials said video and audio from a camera on the bus didn't indicate the students on board did anything that required police help or put the bus in danger. School officials did not discipline any students. Daily Citizen website going behind paywall FROM STAFF REPORTS Starting today, The Daily Citizen's website, daltonnow.com, will move behind a paywall. Those who subscribe to the newspaper, in either its print or digital edition, will get unlimited access to the site. For everyone else, access to most of the content, such as news stories, sports and editorials, will be limited to six stories per month. However, online readers will con- tinue to have unlimited access to features such as breaking news, classifieds and digital photos for free. In taking this path, the Citizen follows a growing trend in the newspaper industry. It takes resources and manpower to collect and package the information we provide to readers. We will continue to provide the same coverage of local government, sports and schools that we have always provided, and we hope that those who have enjoyed our website will take this opportunity to subscribe. To subscribe to The Daily Citizen, go to daltonnow.com or call customer service at (706) 217-6397. SEEKING STATE SUCCESS Dalton High School swimmer Ninive Arriola eyes return trip. Page 1B 87 Years of Creating Memories www.barrettsflowershop.com 52 156352 122 W. Crawford St., Dalton, GA 30720 7 69847 00001 6 Great Steaks & "All You Can Eat Buffet" Moo 50¢ Weather: Thunderstorms, 65°/59° (p. 13A) The Daily Citizen of the North Georgia Newspaper Group, Copyright 2013 Hours: Sun.-Thur. 10:30 am - 9 pm Fri. & Sat. 10:30 am - 10 pm North Cleveland Hwy. Dalton www.daltonwesternsizzlin.com The Daily Citizen 160530

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