“It’s a great day for Dale County Schools,” said Ben Baker as a bevy of beauty queens officially cut the ribbon for additions to the Newton Elementary School Oct. 5.
Baker is the Superintendent of Dale County Schools and he was among those attending the ribbon cutting ceremony for two additional classrooms at the elementary school that has experienced significant growth over the past five years.
Both new classrooms will be used for special needs students, NES Principal Patrick Reed said, adding that the school just recently gained another teaching unit. “So both classrooms are designed to meet the needs of our special needs students.”
The classrooms, which started construction in September 2020, have been completed and in use this school year but the COVID mandates and constraints prohibited an official ribbon cutting until now.
Newton Elementary School and Dale County Schools Central Office staff, Dale County Board of Education members, Dale County Commissioner Charles “Chic” Gary, Newton Mayor Lonnie E. Daniels III and State Rep. Steve Clouse were joined by a bevy of beauty queens at the ribbon cutting.
Newton Elementary School has seen some 25 percent student population growth in recent years and that has led to the need for additional classrooms and additional school support services at the elementary school.
“Our enrollment has continued to pick up,” Reed told those attending the ribbon cutting. “We’re excited about that. I appreciate all of you coming out here because all of you have played a crucial role in this growth in some capacity.”
“We are a growing school system and Newton School is one of the schools seeing the largest increase,” said Baker, adding that he attributes the growth to the “great test scores” and the employees at NES. “When people look to build a house and look for a place to raise a family, they look at the school system—so it is important that we provide the best option for education,” he said.
“We are very proud of the schools that we have in Dale County and we are going to continue to grow and build on our success,” Baker said. “It’s a great day for the community also 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 have these new classrooms. It’s a growing school because it’s a great school.”
Baker credited the DCBOE members “for buying into my vision to have the best facilities that we can for our students.”
“This is a ‘Top 25’ school in state test scores,” Baker said. “Mr. Reed, our teachers and our support staff do an outstanding job not just academically but they create a great climate and culture for our students.
“We’re so proud of this school. It’s great to add to this beautiful campus— and it’s also good to do so in a way that fits our budget. This project was paid for with cash. We didn’t have to borrow any money to do it so that’s exciting as well that we are in a financial positon that we are able to provide the very best for our students.”
Baker also credits 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
“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.”