Safety, repairs top priorities as schools start back in DeKalb, Fulton counties

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 12:53 PM EDT
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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) - Classes are back in session in DeKalb and Fulton counties.

Thousands of students packed up their bookbags and started the new school year Monday in two of Georgia’s largest school districts. These two districts alone have a total of 180,000 students.

With all the major metro counties back in school, you can say so-long to that quick summertime commute.

And at Druid Hills High School, they’re also saying goodbye to dilapidated conditions. This and other DeKalb County Schools still have a long way to go with repairs, but the district is making progress.

The start of the new school year at Druid Hills High School means a fresh look for some of the aging parts of campus that students last year documented in social media videos.

Dr. Vasanne Tinsley is the interim superintendent of the DeKalb County School District. She tells CBS46 that listening to students is a top priority for her.

“The theme this year is keeping students first, so we’re focusing on everything that we do – really supporting the student. And so with that, keeping students first, we’ve got to let the students have a voice,” said Dr. Vesanne Tinsley, Interim Superintendent for DeKalb County Schools.

The back-to-school excitement does have its challenges for DeKalb schools. It still needs to hire more school resource officers, and it’s dealing with a bus driver shortage, which could mean long rides home for some children.

And it’s much the same for Fulton County Schools. In the city of South Fulton, police have activated new school zone cameras in 14 school zones. A first offense is $100 and $150 for any offense after that.

“We are constantly training and developing protocols to make sure we are as safe as we can,” said Patrick Labat, Fulton County Sheriff.

Low milestone scores continue to be an issue for many districts as we emerge from the pandemic. In DeKalb County, Dr. Tinsley has a plan for that.

“What we’re doing now is we’re utilizing these scores to help us level-set and just understand what we need to do to move forward and help to move the needle with student achievement for our students,” Dr. Tinsley said.

Security is also a top priority in every school district. In DeKalb County, they’ve added a campus supervisor position at every middle and high school to monitor the exterior perimeter. The idea is to stop any potential threat long before a bad guy could enter the building.