Parents, students fear school programs will be reduced in DeKalb County

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 5:56 PM EDT
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DECATUR, Ga. (CBS46) - School may be out for the summer, but these kids are still learning an important lesson in civic education.

Briarlake Elementary School student Vienna Hardy says, “it feels like I’m never going to fix this because I’m 8-years-old and I can’t do anything and because nobody will listen to me.”

Hardy and her friends at Briarlake elementary made signs and wrote letters to school board members after learning there may be fewer programs and teachers in the classroom next year.

School officials said enrollment is down more than 6 % or 6,000 students district-wide. The pandemic prompted many children to transition to private or home schooling forcing some public schools to restructure.

“We hope that our kids feel heard and that the district will recognize how important this is to them,” said Briarlake Elementary school parent Diana Hardy. “The kids just recently learned they are probably going to lose their stem special, and that art, music and physical education might be part time. They are devastated.”

DeKalb County school photo of kids
DeKalb County school photo of kids(CBS46 News)

Dekalb County school board members approved next year’s budget during an online meeting on Thursday. However, it’s still unclear what the final impact will be at the classroom level.

“With $448 million in cares act money and $132 million extra coming in from elevated property tax index. Dekalb County has money. I would just like to see them prioritize putting money in classrooms with teachers rather than paying fired superintendents,” said Tonja Holder, a Briarlake Elementary school parent.

“When we looked at the budget, it kind of looked like they were requesting additional funds for the central office but they’re right sizing by taking funds out of the classroom,” Hardy said.

These kids hope that their passion for learning with all the right tools will teach school leaders a lesson before it’s too late.

It could take a few weeks now that the budget has been approved to determine the final impact at the classroom level.

According to Department of Communications for DeKalb Schools Donald Porter, “as was advertised, the called board meeting was held virtually on Thursday, so the members did not meet at the District office. Accordingly, any letters directed to board members will be distributed to them for their awareness and consideration via normal distribution channels and regular delivery schedules.”

Porter adds “the budget has been approved for 2023 and district administrators will be working to solidify allocations based on projected student enrollment. How allotments are apportioned at the local school is ultimately up to the building principal and his/her team while working with their respective Regional Superintendent. Under federal rules, all DCSD schools are required to provide resources to students on a comparable basis.  Annually, the state reviews our staffing practices and determines whether we are compliant with these rules.  If we are out of compliance, DCSD must reallocate teacher resources across the district to bring ourselves into compliance.”

There are a number of allowable expenses via CARES Act funding. For more information, click here.