DeKalb County students head back to school with new security, technology

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Summer is ending for more than 100,000 DeKalb County students.

The state's third largest district is one of many heading back to class Monday. DeKalb has 102,000 students, 137 schools and learning centers, and 15,500 staffers.

This year DeKalb is beefing up security, by adding 10 additional school resource police officers. It has also given safety training to staff members and is closely monitoring social media sites. 

District officials say in addition to concerns about potential school threats, they want to prevent bullying and student suicides. New buildings are all being equipped with special security vestibules, which prevent visitors from gaining access to the school without being buzzed or let in.

DeKalb is also handing out thousands of Chromebook laptops. The program is called Digital Dreamers. By year's end, every DeKalb student will have access to the technology. 

A total of 74,000 Chromebooks are being distributed. Younger elementary students will get their computers out of carts stored at school but will be able to check them out if needed.  Older students will take the technology home. The Chromebooks are outfitted with WiFi hotspots, allowing kids to get internet access just about everywhere.  Local partners are paying for that service.

District leaders call the program vital, saying students need to be tech-savvy to compete in the modern world.

DeKalb is also starting a first in the state Early Learning Center.  Housed at Terry Mill Elementary, the Center will give 200 3-year-olds a jump start on the learning process. 

The center will work on developing both academic and social skills. 

A number of local agencies, including the Atlanta Food Bank, DFACS and the Board of Health, will set up satellite offices at the center.  School leaders say that'll allow the center to serve students' entire family in one place. Officials had to retrofit the building for the center, making things like water fountains smaller for the younger children.