• DeKalb schools to vote on budget gap solution


    The DeKalb County School Board is set to vote today on ways to fix the district’s budget gap, including a cut in the number of school resource officers and potentially raising taxes.

    At a budget and finance committee hearing Monday morning, Channel 2's Richard Elliot learned that the Fernbank Science Center's budget is back on the chopping block, with a proposed cut of $3.2 million to the center's existing $4.7 million budget.

    Not enough school board members showed up to the budget meeting to make a quorum, but parents and teachers were given the floor to voice concerns and plead their cases.

    Board member Paul Womack said he wants to emphasize that the proposed cuts will not hurt education.

    "While we have been dealing with this crisis, the teaching and learning team has been looking into the schools and seeing what's missing, what is needed and what others have," Womack said.

    Womack said he will not vote for a tax increase.

    Ten resource officer positions are also on the chopping block at Monday’s meeting.

    Channel 2’s Amy Napier-Viteri received a letter from officers questioning how the resource officers are currently being used.

    Sources within the DeKalb County Schools Police Department shared the letter with Viteri. It details how cuts to the school resource officers could affect investigators and supervisors. One officer, who asked not to be identified, said there are too few supervisors as it is.

    According to the letter, for months, the department’s lieutenant has been working as security for the district’s superintendent.

    Three sergeants, a lieutenant and a chief, according to the letter, are the extent of supervisory positions for nearly 80 school resource officers in the department.

    The school board is proposing cutting 10 school resource officer positions from the central office in an effort to close a $73 million hole in the budget.

    “My concern is the safety of the students,” an officer said.

    The officer said the cuts could affect the eight detectives who investigate sex crimes and violent crimes.

    According to the letter, the department’s lieutenant is assigned to Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson as personal security.

    School board spokesman Walter Woods denied that the officer has been specifically assigned to Atkinson.

    Woods said the lieutenant is not with Atkinson every day to his knowledge.

    Several sources within the police department told Channel 2 that the lieutenant no longer works out of his office, but instead he signs in and reports to the district’s administrative and instruction complex where Atkinson is based.

    The officers who wrote the letter said they sent a copy to each member of the board of education.

    The board is scheduled to vote on a final budget Monday evening. Watch Channel 2 Action News and chack back with WSBTV.com for live updates.

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