HCS to Go Back to School Focused on 'Winning for Kids' in 2023-2024
HENRY COUNTY, GA – Henry County Schools will welcome nearly 44,000 students to its 52 schools on Wednesday, Aug. 2, for the start of the 2023-2024 school year.
The district’s enrollment – anticipated at a record 43,984 students – is a 1.3% increase over 2022-2023.
As classes get underway on Wednesday, elementary school hours are 7:35 a.m.-2:15 p.m.; high school hours are 8:15 a.m.-3:15 p.m.; and middle school hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. across the district.
“We are ecstatic to launch the 2023-2024 school year with the theme ‘Winning for Kids’ focused on ‘More Learning, More Growing, More Celebrating’ as the impact of numerous strategic plan-driven investments by the Board of Education will be experienced by students and teachers in the third year of our five-year Community-Inspired Strategic Plan,” said Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis.
“More Learning” starts with this year’s record investment of $11,677 per student and a starting teacher salary of $48,410, more than $10,000 above the starting salary just five years ago.
Because more learning is dependent on retaining the most effective professionals and recruiting the best of the best, a total of 45 new teacher positions were created, and wage increases between 3-15% were provided for salaried employees. Targeted increases for positions of need include a pay raise of $2 per hour for bus drivers.
The district hired more than 1,000 employees to join HCS this year, including approximately 515 new teachers, and launched a new substitute teacher staffing partnership to increase substitute availability when a teacher is absent.
This year, the district will welcome 10 new principals, including Mahogany Jackson at Cotton Indian Elementary, Lindsay Boyle at Hickory Flat Elementary, Holly Williams at Timber Ridge Elementary, Andre Johnson at Oakland Elementary, Carrie Edwards at Ola Elementary, Dr. Twyla Barkley at Luella Elementary, Douglas Fletcher at Dutchtown Elementary, Dr. Allison Van Tone-Foles at Mount Carmel Elementary, Dr. Tylisa Hill at Excel Academy, and Dr. Delphine Patterson at Impact Academy.
Five additional principals who will begin their first full year with their respective schools include Dr. Cedric Peeples at Stockbridge Elementary, Dwayne Richards at Union Grove Middle, Victoria Grubbs at Flippen Elementary, Jennifer McCrary at Pate’s Creek Elementary, and Dr. Lydia Williams at Hampton Middle.
More learning also comes through classroom investments. Targeted investments by the Board of Education include $1.9 million in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) under the strategic plan, including STEM teachers and labs at every elementary school, robotics equipment at all grade levels, and science equipment in K-12 classrooms.
An additional $1 million has been invested in musical instruments to facilitate more learning in the arts, along with choral programs at every elementary school and theatre programs at many elementary schools. Within three years, orchestra and band programs will be offered at every middle and high school, and within five years, every high school marching band will have new uniforms.
Additional strategic plan investments include CTAE equipment, hands-on math equipment for K-8 students, graphing calculators for all Algebra I students, and instructional resources and equipment in more than a half-dozen content areas.
“I am thrilled at the work of our district to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes for each student in order to prepare them for a global society,” said Board Chair Annette Edwards (Dist. 2). “The beauty of our Community-Inspired Strategic Plan is collaborating with our parents and community partners to provide overall support and care to each student. There is so much work and excitement happening in Henry County Schools.”
More growing means ensuring a high-quality education that stretches and develops students. As the district enters the 2023-2024 school year, twice as many middle-schoolers are earning high-school course credit than in previous years. Each district high school offers at least 12 (and as many as 26) Advanced Placement Courses, and HCS will continue to build off 2,500 dual enrollment college credit hours earned by students last year.
Talent development initiatives have led to more than 2,000 additional elementary students being identified as gifted eligible, with more fourth- and fifth-graders taking advanced math courses than ever before in the district. New third-grade advanced math courses are being launched, and a plan is in place to offer world languages at all elementary schools within three years.
The latest in $26 million of investments in safety and security since 2018 include single-point entry at all schools, interior and exterior doors remaining locked with door-ajar alarms, increased cameras in schools and buses, and real-time monitoring of exterior door cameras. Additionally, the Board of Education has increased behavior expectations in the Code of Conduct for fighting, threats, and bus conduct.
More growing also means preparing high-quality classrooms and facilities as student enrollment grows. Infrastructure enhancements include a full furniture replacement program being piloted at three elementary schools, new athletic equipment, scoreboards, and band uniforms based on a newly established district-wide system of growth and replacement, as well as front entrance electronic message boards at all schools.
Growth planning and E-SPLOST VI construction projects will accommodate more than 5,000 additional students, including an addition at Dutchtown High that opens this school year, planned additions at five other existing schools over the next three years, two new elementary schools in the coming years, as well as the previously mentioned STEM high school.
Recently completed construction projects include HVAC installation at all elementary school gyms and a new front entryway at Fairview Elementary, while athletic facility upgrades are underway at Austin Road Middle and Stockbridge Middle.
Construction is also underway on a new westside transportation hub to support a transportation department that adds 26 new buses this year and has replaced 36% of its fleet over the past five years.
“Finally, more celebrating means recognizing that more learning and more growing require extraordinary impact from each of our 6,000 employees,” said Davis. “We are planning more celebration and recognition of the exceptional work going on across our district, and we invite our community to join us in this effort. ‘Winning for Kids’ takes all of us working together toward the best year yet in Henry County Schools.”
About Henry County Schools
Henry County Schools (HCS) is the eighth-largest school district in Georgia, consisting of 52 schools, including two academies, located about 20 minutes south of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Over the past 20 years, our community has grown in population from 113,000 residents to over 244,000 residents. Since 1999, student enrollment has grown from 21,000 students to 43,000 students, and our number of employees has grown from 3,000 to 6,000.
HCS is “In Pursuit of Exceptional,” taking action to advance opportunities, access, and outcomes so that every student in our school district has Exceptional Support, Exceptional Access, and an Exceptional Future. In 2020, our Board of Education adopted our 2021-2026 Community-Inspired Strategic Plan and laid out a clear vision and mission for Henry County Schools. Our vision is to ensure a high-quality, world-class education for every student, and our mission is to empower all students with exceptional opportunities and access that lead to success in a global society.