Dalton, GA voters will decide this year if they want a new school with a price somewhere north of $50 million.

The city council voted 3-1 Monday to put a referendum on the ballot Nov. 7, asking voters to approve a $50 million bond issued by the Dalton Board of Education. School board member Steve Laird said the money would go toward building a new sixth- and seventh-grade school.

If administrators can move those grades, Laird said, they would bump the ninth graders down to the middle school. That would lower the populations at both Dalton Middle and High schools.

Based on the March 2017 enrollment figures, the new school would house about 1,200 students. The middle school, meanwhile, would drop from about 1,800 students to 1,200. The high school would fall from 1,900 students to 1,400.

Dalton Public Schools CFO Theresa Perry said the middle and high schools are close to capacity.

Based on Georgia Department of Education standards, Dalton Middle School was at 98.8 percent occupancy this spring. Dalton High School, meanwhile, was at 100.3 percent.

“You’ve got options,” Laird said. “You’re either going to expand the existing facilities, or you’re going to create and build a new school.”

Jevin Jensen, who is advocating against the bond, said the referendum does not explicitly say the money is going to build a new school. He said the Board of Education could pull a bait and switch, using the money for something else. He pointed to this year’s E-SPLOST. After voters approved the 1 percent sales tax, the Board of Education reneged on the idea of using the money to build a new gym.

Times Free Press