To help close a $73 million budget shortfall in its 2013 proposed budget, both Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson and the DeKalb School Board have proposed ending transportation for all magnet and choice programs – including DeKalb Early College, theme school and Arabia Mountain High School students.
The transportation elimination is expected to save the school district $1.8 million but will strand 3,060 students who attend schools like Kittredge Magnet, Chamblee Middle, and Chamblee Charter High schools in North DeKalb.
The cuts will affect 542 elementary students, 973 middle school students, and 1,545 high school students.
Other options under consideration include a 1 mill property tax hike, larger class sizes, two extra furlough days for employees, loss of employee health and dental insurance subsidies; cutting 25 media clerks; eliminating overtime extra activity pay and textbook replacement; and reducing 10 assistant principals and 10 counselors through attrition.
The school board is set to vote on the proposed budget on June 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the J. David Williamson Board Room, Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard in Stone Mountain.
Parents will get to voice their concerns about the proposed budget before the vote.
Under the proposed cuts, Arabia Mountain High will see the biggest impact with 891 students losing their transportation. In an email circulated to parents this week, the Arabia Mountain PTSA said that number represents half of the school’s enrollment.
“Eliminating transportation to AMHS would effectively close our high school, or turn it into a neighborhood school,” the email said.
Judith Taylor, an Arabia Mountain parent who drops her daughter off at school, said the transportation cut will cause “total pandemonium” at the school.
“This could add up to over 800 cars to an area which is already congested between 7 and 8 a.m.,” she said. “It is ridiculous to even contemplate an additional three or eight hundred cars dropping/picking up students. In effect, if the School Board has its way, I will definitely be late for work every morning.”
Janaiha Ellis, whose 15-year-old daughter, Reanah Gibson, attends DECA, said her daughter will be late to school every day if she has to drive her to school.
“I have to drop my 5-year-old off at school before 7:45 a.m.,” she said. “It’s impossible – with traffic – to get Reanah to school by 8 a.m. If they cut the transportation she’ll be in violation of the attendance policy.”
Ellis said it’s unfair to punish students for something they have no control over.
“Why do the kids have to suffer for their educational choice?” she said.