Kid City program to expand to older students with Cat City and Cat University

·3 min read

Aug. 16—While Kid City continues to reach more elementary students through a five-year U.S. Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, older students in Dalton Public Schools will be able to access similar enrichment opportunities beginning next month.

A pair of additional 21st Century Community Learning Center grants will establish Cat City for as many as 110 Dalton Junior High School students and Cat University for as many as 90 students from Dalton High School and The Dalton Academy, starting Sept. 7, said Malisa Pedro, Kid City's program director.

Both Cat City and Cat University will focus on academics, youth development — through health and wellness, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) programs and life skills learning — and family engagement.

Cat City will — like Kid City — also have a summer component in addition to the after-school program during the school year, and the grant is for $1.23 million over five years, Pedro said.

The Cat University grant is for $844,566 over five years. It won't have a summer piece because so many local high school students work extensively during the summer.

"Pedro and Kid City have set the bar very high," said Russ Southerland, a teacher at The Dalton Academy who will be the site coordinator for Cat City and Cat University. "We're excited for our secondary students to have this opportunity."

Transportation and safety

Jeff Wells, director of transportation and safety for Dalton Public Schools, is pleased by the improvements in transportation from the first week of school to the second week, he said, particularly with buses arriving at Brookwood School and City Park School, which were the two "biggest problem areas" during the first week. At both schools, bus arrival times improved by 20 minutes from week one to this week.

In addition to having all 37 bus routes covered, "we should have two spare drivers by the end of this week," Wells said. Furthermore, "we hope to have nine spare drivers by the end of September."

"(We've also) started fire drills" at schools, and each school will have completed at least one fire drill within the first 10 days of the school year that started Aug. 9, Wells said. Thus far, "everything has been positive."

School meals and enrollment

"Every student" attending Brookwood School, Dalton High School, Dalton Junior High School, Hammond Creek Middle School, The Dalton Academy and Westwood School "needs to return an application" for free/reduced meals this year — all students at Blue Ridge School, City Park School, Park Creek School and Roan School can continue to access free meals this school year — and "we're further ahead than we expected to be right now," School Nutrition Director Wimberly Brackett said Monday. "We've collected over 2,000 applications — 84% online and 16% paper — (as) the principals are doing a great job" reminding families they need to fill out these forms for the first time since the 2019-20 school year.

On the opening day of the 2022-23 school year, Dalton Public Schools had 7,360 students, and that figure is now up to 7,568, 83 fewer than this time last year, Superintendent Tim Scott said Monday.

"We continue to get a large number of students after the Labor Day holiday, too."