A crowd of approximately 75 residents attended the monthly PRISM meeting on March 8at St. Timothy Methodist Church in Stone Mountain, where DeKalb County School Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson was the main speaker for the evening.
State Rep. Michele Henson, a founding member of PRISM, was in the audience and welcomed the crowd. Two DeKalb County police representatives also addressed the audience to reassure residents about their commitment to keep the community safe.
Atkinson spoke to the audience for about 20 minutes.
“I talk about servant leadership all the time. I spent the first 90 days listening and learning so that I can lead effectively," Atkinson said.
She shared the five goals of the county’s “Excellence in Education” plan:
-Student achievement and success
-Excellence in leadership
-Safe and orderly schools
“We all have to be willing to do whatever it takes for the children. If we want our children to compete in a global America, we must be prepared to do things differently," concluded Atkinson.
After Atkinson finished speaking, the audience was invited to ask her questions about the school system.
Andrea Hart, a parent of a student at the DeKalb Early College Academy (DECA), asked about whether the school system would provide a golf sports program for DECA.
“We are currently looking for a new athletic director and we are overhauling the entire athletic program so that every child will have a chance to play [sports]," answered Atkinson.
Stone Mountain resident and longtime PRISM member Jan Dunaway, brought up the issue of students from the DeKalb Alternative School cutting through the properties of businesses in order to get to the school on Memorial Drive near Hairston Road. “We have businesses that are greatly disturbed because of the students," said Dunaway.
Sonia McAllister, a parent DeKalb County School student, talked about the deplorable conditions at Clarkston High School, a school on the south side of DeKalb County versus the stellar conditions of Tucker High School, a school on the north side of the county.
“There is an inequity in the school system. My tax dollars are supposed to trickle down. If you live on the north side of the county, you get it all, but if you live in central or South DeKalb you the crumbs," said McAllister.
Atkinson responded by saying that she sees the disparities and that there are certain non-negotiable items that should be in every school. “The board is trying to catch up because there were years where nothing was done. It’s going to take some time to get us up to that level," said Atkinson.