“This doesn’t get old to me,” said Ben Baker with a smile as he looked over the crowd assembled for the groundbreaking at Newton Elementary School Friday, Sept. 18. “It’s another great day for Dale County Schools.”
Baker is the Superintendent of Dale County Schools and he was among those attending the groundbreaking ceremony for two additional classrooms at the elementary school that has grown in student up to 10 percent over each of the past three years.
“Our enrollment has continued to pick up,” Newton Elementary School Principal Patrick Reed told those attending the groundbreaking. “We’re excited about that.
“Our kindergarten is up to 53 students as of today, which is a huge amount for our school,” Reed said. “Five years ago we had 33 in kindergarten—this growth is a big deal.”
One of the new classrooms will be for a special education class, Reed said, adding that the school is anticipating gaining another teaching unit. “So the second will be a classroom for the grade that needs it the most.”
Newton Elementary School and Dale County Schools Central Office staff, Dale County Board of Education members, Dale County Commissioner Charles “Chic” Gary, Newton Mayor Bill Pruett, Newton Police Chief Frankie Peterman, State Sen. Donnie Chesteen and State Rep. Steve Clouse were joined by a bevy of beauty queens at the ground breaking.
“We are growing school system and we are growing at Newton School because we have great people here,” said Baker. “When people look to build a house and a place to raise a family, they look at the school system so it’s important.
“We are very proud of the schools that we have in Dale County and we’re going to continue to grow on that,” Baker said. “It’s a great day for the community too because when we have these construction projects, it is a great boost to the local economy.
“We’ve made good investments here in Newton over the years,” Baker added. “We’ve renovated the lunchroom, we’ve renovated the library, replaced walls and windows, put in a new playground for the pre-k and now we’re going to add these new classrooms—on top of the paving projects we did here this summer. It’s a growing school because it’s a great school.”
Baker credited the DCBOE members “for buying into the vision that we have on having the best that we can for our students” and the Dale County Commission for their their support. “We have a great partnership with the County Commission folks,” he said, thanking them for their support of the school resource officer program
Baker also had high praise for Associate Superintendent Chuck Walker who overseas the system’s facilities. “I keep him very busy and we’re not going to give him a break. We’re going to keep building, keep adding,” he said.
“We’ve spent over $5 million on our kids over the last four years and we’re going to spend another $5 million over the next four years,” Baker said. “We want the best for our kids and want to provide them a safe atmosphere to get a great education.”