published Monday, April 5th, 2010

Dalton schools offices opening at City Hall in weeks


by Kelly Jackson
Audio clip

Don Amonett

DALTON, Ga. — Spring cleaning this year is intense at the Dalton Public Schools’ central office.

About 30 employees are packing to move to City Hall.

Don Amonett, deputy superintendent, said school offices have been at 100 S. Hamilton St. since about 1970.

He said the move is daunting, but that “the good side is it forces us to clean out. Educators are terrible — and I’m guilty as charged — about being pack rats.”

The present building was constructed about 1910 and needs a lot of repairs, including $500,000 to replace a leaky roof, Mr. Amonett said.

WHAT’S NEXT

* April 13: The Dalton School Board will hold its first meetings at City Hall, including a 5:30 p.m. budget work session and 6:30 p.m. regular meeting.

* April 19: School offices at City Hall officially open.

Sources: Don Amonett, Dalton Public Schools Web site

There’s no charge for the space at City Hall, but the school system will split utility and maintenance costs with city government, he said.

But employees said there are benefits other than saving money and saying goodbye to rainwater buckets in the attic.

Dawn Cook, secondary coordinator for special education, said she’s excited to get more sunshine.

“The biggest thing I’m looking forward to, other than (City Hall) being a gorgeous building, is I’ll have two windows,” she said. “Right now I’m in the basement with no windows.”

She said it will be easier to communicate with fellow employees and work on projects because their offices will be closer instead of separated on three stories.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press Linda White, employment and certification specialist for Dalton Public Schools, packs records in the Human Resources offices before moving to the Dalton City Hall.

School offices will occupy half of the second and all of the third floor at City Hall, roughly half of the 38,000-square-foot building, officials said.

But there’s also a bit of nostalgia as boxes are packed and taped.

Nelly Cervantes, human resources secretary, said she likes having an office in central downtown and Debra Cooper, secretary to the superintendent, said she’ll miss the building’s history.

Before it was home to school offices, the building served as the post office, she said.

Mayor David Pennington said city employees are excited for the new tenants. Half of City Hall now is unoccupied, he said.

“It’s been pretty dead there for a long time,” he said. “We need to use public space more efficiently.”

The school system traded its current building to the city for the Municipal Court Building on Waugh Street, where the system one day may build new administrative offices, according to newspaper archives.

The city hopes to find grant money to renovate the Hamilton Street building, Mr. Pennington said.

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