First Day

Students enter Dothan High School during the first day of classes.

Editor’s Note: As 2019 comes to an end, The Eagle is presenting a Year in Review series highlighting some of the area’s top events. The stories were selected by the newspaper’s news team and will publish daily through New Year’s Eve.

The year started with a divided public high school population, a plan to combine them, and an uncertain outlook.

In a bid to save Dothan City Schools from tipping into a financial crisis because of students fleeing the district, largely at the high school level, Superintendent Phyllis Edwards persuaded a majority of the school board to consolidate Northview and Dothan High schools.

There was a long list of items to check off posthaste as the timeline to seamlessly transition 8,000 students into new environments narrowed. Many changes happened quickly to pull off the gargantuan task:

» Name the city’s now-lone high school Dothan High School, with Wolves as its mascot.

» Name the city’s now-lone junior high school Dothan Preparatory Academy, with a lion as its mascot.

» Create spirit colors for both schools.

» Stagger bus routes to quicken pickups and drop-offs.

» Establish Advanced Placement courses and more classes to accommodate more students.

» Assign over 1,000 personnel to positions, schools.

» Team up with a local ministry — WIRED — after tentatively labeling and staging, to move thousands of pieces of furniture to new homes in a week.

» Complete large-scale construction projects to improve and reconfigure schools for their new purposes in around two months.

» Make sure 8,000 students know their schedules for the first day of school.

The school system completed all this and much, much more in less than eight months and opened doors, as scheduled, on Aug. 20.

Many abandoned the school system before it opened and many left later, resulting in a 300-student deficit in enrollment numbers by the 20th day of school.

With conflicting public opinion on the state of Dothan’s public education system proliferating, the year is ending somewhat like it started: uncertain of what the future holds for Dothan City Schools.

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