Bus alarms, cameras among changes at Dalton schools

Bus alarms, cameras among  changes at Dalton schools

Dalton may not be big, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be big things in store for Wayne County’s smallest public school district.

A new softball field, some air-conditioning and improved bus safety are among the highlights as Dalton kicks off the 2022-23 school year.

The big one there is probably the A/C. With school years beginning in August and summers these days stretching to October, conditions can be stifling in the late-summer, early-fall portion of the calendar — not exactly the best learning environment.

Also in store at the high school are replacement windows, which should enhance the new HVAC equipment in terms of insulation. The windows will replace original equipment, which has been in place for nearly six decades, DHS having opened in 1966.

“We have been victims to the supply-chain issues, and some things are taking longer than expected to come in,” Dalton Schools Superintendent James Saxer said of delays, which kept the new gear from being in place to start the new year. “But within a month or so, everything will be in. Needless to say, we will have heat in the winter and A/C come springtime.”

A supply of rain, not the supply chain, delayed the grand opening of the district’s new softball field. That, however, only allowed the opening to be more grand.

The field was officially christened The Howard J. Wenger Field on July 12 with the high school vs. alumni game. The contest was played before a big crowd and featured nearly two-dozen former Bulldogs taking on the current crew.

Also part of those festivities, a commemorative plaque was installed to honor Janine Ramer, who played in the early 2000s before losing her life in a car accident at the age of 16.

Saxer also pointed out the purchase of No Child Left Behind systems for its buses. Each bus will be fitted with a button in the back that drivers will need to push after shutting off the bus. The system will sound an alarm that drivers can only shut off by making their way through the length of the bus, thus ensuring no children are left on the bus once a route is concluded.

Buses also have been fitted with camera systems to monitor rider activity and give driver’s-eye views of what is happening outside the bus.

Saxer said Dalton has come out of the COVID pandemic not too much worse for wear, saying the district took things in stride.

“We focused on supporting our staff, who in turn supported the students,” he said. “I do not believe we had a lot of cases when compared to other schools. We followed the mandates and recommendations of the CDC, the Ohio Department of Health and the Wayne County Health Department. I am optimistic that this will be a year which restores some sense of normalcy for us.”

Saxer said the district has many goals for the upcoming year in such areas as academic achievement, extracurricular activities, fiscal transparency and responsibility, facilities, a positive school climate, technology, and community engagement.

“We also have a required One Plan through the Ohio Department of Education, which has goals we want to accomplish,” Saxer said. “Focusing on academics, our primary goals are to ensure we provide instruction which is aligned to the Ohio content standards and is rigorous. We want to not only challenge our students, but also ensure we provide the academic — as well as mental health — support students need to be successful.”

The district welcomed 10 new faces to its staff for the new year: Justin Abshear (elementary and middle school STEAM), Linda Burgan (high school custodial), Dan Edwards (high school academic tutor), Jen Gerber (attendance secretary), Justin Greenfelder (high school varsity boys basketball), Mikayla Hackett (elementary intervention specialist), Rachel Schattschneider (transportation), Don Stoll (high school academic tutor and varsity cheer coach), Shane Twining (transportation supervisor) and Jenna Warner (high school math, algebra I and geometry).

Those who have been around but changed jobs include Alyssa Hutson (elementary school secretary), Christy Martin (elementary school intervention specialist), Craig Miller (middle school science grades 5-6), Rex Steiner (middle school math grades 5-6), Brenda Hostetler (elementary school and middle school food service), Diane Fennell (high school math, algebra II and transitional math), Melinda Oswald (board office, superintendent secretary and assistant treasurer) and Jaclyn Lecon (transportation).

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