DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - DeKalb County is spending millions of dollars to ramp up security as the student population has reached an all-time high.
The money is being spent on a buzz-in camera in every school and the placement of armed school resource officers at elementary schools. DeKalb is the first county in metro Atlanta to put officers in elementary schools, a move that cost $4 million.
“We’re hiring eight additional police officers. They’re provided police cars so they can patrol the areas and they can provide support throughout the region,” Public Safety Director Horace Dunson.
Along with new cars, officers will get an upgraded radio system and new uniforms. Schools also received beefed up camera systems to help officers keep an eye out for people carrying weapons.
“Our officers are trained to identify individuals who may not present themselves as having a weapon and they’ll be directed off campus with those weapons,” Dunson said.
Parents will have some input on the security changes. The district will get public input on the new uniforms before they are ordered.
Teachers also underwent training over the summer on what to do in the event of a crisis.
Students, who for the first time ever number more than 100,000, will see technology changes this school year as well.
Sixth grade teacher Jennifer Joiner showed off the new Prometheus white boards at Kittredge Magnet School for High Achievers. Every classroom in DeKalb County is now equipped with the board – a total of 2,000.
Teachers said the new technology allows them to be more effective.
“It’s become a very important part of engaging students and allowing them to show us their growth and progress,” Kittredge Magnet School Principal Laura Neely said.
This year, students and teachers at all DeKalb schools will also find new computer centers. The district installed more than 16,000 computers over the summer.
Sixth grade science teacher Susan Oltman said the computers are needed.
“I found the animations and interactives are really essential to getting students really getting to know the concept well,” Oltman said.
Parents can also get more involved with a new app called Infinite Campus. It allows them to get instant feedback from teachers and administrators about everything from grades to tardiness problems.
This year, DeKalb is also instituting a new Internet security system, which will restrict access to certain websites. Each child will have his or her own ID, so administrators can keep track of what they’re doing online.