some text
Jim Hawkins is the Dalton Public Schools Superintendent

DALTON, Ga. - Beginning in January, Dalton city high school students will be able to attend classes at Whitfield Career Academy under an agreement approved by the Dalton school board Tuesday evening.

Murray County schools also plan to have a similar agreement, school officials said.

"With the three school districts working together, we will provide students with a bigger array of options than any individual district can provide," school board Chairman Steve Williams said.

Officials said they had initially planned to offer the option in August 2012. But after talking to students and seeing how many were interested in taking classes, they decided to begin a pilot program in January.

About 70 students from Morris Innovative High School have asked to take the classes, primarily automotive and cosmetology classes, Morris Principal Jennifer Phinney said. Dalton city schools do not offer either class.

Students will need to be enrolled at Morris to be eligible for the dual enrollment program.

Superintendent Jim Hawkins told the board it will be the first public school system with such a program where students can attend classes in another district's high school. Details such as funding, busing, scheduling and discipline will have to be worked out, he said.

"We don't think any of this is insurmountable; we'll just have to talk it out," he said.

Whitfield Career Academy, which is currently under the Whitfield County School System, has applied to become a charter school named the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy. The state has not yet approved the application.

Hawkins told board members he would bring them a more detailed agreement for their approval in November or December.

In other business, board members approved two contracts for architectural services to begin studying long-term changes for Dalton Middle School and Morris Innovative High School. Both schools need additional space, school officials say.

The contract for Dalton Middle School asks architects to design a multipurpose building that can be used for classrooms and then later converted into an auditorium. Since that building will not be completed by next year, portable classrooms may need to be brought in for a short-term solution, Hawkins said.

School officials are looking to buy and renovate an existing building to expand Morris Innovative High School within the next few years.