When it comes to talk of population growth in Dawson County, many parents have mentioned public school enrollment and expansion as key concerns.
Dawson County Schools Superintendent Damon Gibbs responded to DCN’s questions to shed more light on where the school system is now and where it is going.
Gibbs will soon retire, and current Deputy Superintendent Nicole Lecave will take his place.
Over the past decade, the public schools have grown by a cumulative 600 students, Gibbs said. In response, the school system has realigned grades 6-12 to better serve students. Other additions include performing arts and JROTC facilities, a college and career academy, more technology infrastructure and devices and various other district projects.
“We have worked to expand opportunities both academic and extracurricular for both our most fragile and our most capable students,” Gibbs said. “We have also moved from a 84% graduation rate to a five year average 96% rate, which is in the top 10 in Georgia. “
Currently, Dawson County Schools has 3,839 students spread across seven schools, and the district’s capacity is 6,100.
“No other district in Georgia has the capacity that we have in Dawson County,” he added. “We can grow almost 1,000 in grades K-5; 325 in grades 6-7; 150 in grades 8-9; and 800 in 10-12.”
Likewise, while the district has a number of classrooms at or near capacity, many other spaces are not close to full. Gibbs called that a phenomenon common in schools across Georgia. Earlier this year, the district added some additional staff where needed.
“There are certainly growing pains but nothing our dedicated teachers and support staff can't handle,” Gibbs added.
The superintendent shared that the school district “is in a good position” to handle growth and can adjust as necessary. He said his team’s focus remains primarily on serving students within the scope of the school system.
Gibbs added that he understands concerns about the growth in Dawson County.
“We have been very careful to ensure that the work we have done in the past several years is scalable so that our level of service, even as we grow, will be consistent for years to come,” he said. “We are positioned well for the coming growth and will work hard to continue to meet the educational needs of all current and future children in Dawson County.”