published Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Whitfield County schools study tax vote

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DALTON, Ga. — Whitfield County school officials briefly discussed during their monthly meeting Monday evening when they may place a 1 percent sales tax increase referendum on the ballot, but did not vote on the issue.

“We are still in the talking stages; the decision will have to be made with Dalton public schools,” Superintendent Danny Hayes said after the meeting.

Both school systems had voted to place the tax increase on the November ballot earlier this year, but then removed it. They now plan to put it on the ballot sometime next year.

Hayes said the delay will allow the county schools to tweak their projects list that will be funded by the tax increase.

The system is working on their five-year facilities plan, which will complete by early next year. That plan may receive some state funding for improvements and renovations, which would allow the county to make changes in their plan to spend local tax dollars, Hayes said.

The county school system recently completed Coahulla Creek High School and is in the process of building Eastbrook Middle School. The sales tax increase would partially help repay money borrowed to build the two schools.

School board members also heard a report about Whitfield County’s program to help students learn English if that is not their primary language at home. More than 3,700 students in the county speak Spanish, and 1,870 are enrolled as English learners.

Vietnamese and Urdu rank second and third in other languages spoken by students, but only about two dozen each speak those two languages.

About 76 percent of English learners graduated from Whitfield County Schools, which is more than 10 percent higher than Georgia’s graduation rate for English learners.

Contact staff writer Mariann Martin at mmartin@timesfreepress.com or 706-980-5824.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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