Parents knew the cuts were inevitable, but they still voiced disappointment Friday morning following the DeKalb County School Board's budget vote Thursday night.
Board members voted to make deep cuts to next year's budget. That means more children in the classroom, more furlough days for teachers - and also a property tax increase.
"It's going to cut out a lot of time for the kids, and I don't wish we'd have that right about now," said Demetrice Harrison, a parent.
"I think it's crazy that they keep taking from the children, and they need to find other ways to do it," seconded Sanekia Stewart.
"This county cannot continue going the way it's going," said school board member H. Paul Womack Jr. "We have got to get our spending under control and if you don't do it now, you think this budget year has been painful? If the economy continues the way it's going next year is going to be a disaster."
Those harsh words worry parent Eric Flemming.
"I am concerned that it's going to be worse next year, if the economy as a whole doesn't pick up," Flemming said.
For weeks, the school board struggled to come up with $85 million in cuts. Even the beloved Fernbank Science Center was once on the chopping block.
Instead the board saved it, slashing its budget by two thirds from $4.7 million per year to $1.9 million next year.
The district will cut 200 paraprofessionals, 29 media specialists and 10 school resource officers.
Teachers will be furloughed two more days for a total of six all year.
Class size will grow by two more students – including in special needs classrooms.
To help pay for it all, a property tax increase of 1 mill or $80 per year on an average home was added to the budget.
Flemming worried they might not be able to stick around if the economy keeps tumbling downward.
"I do think that next year is probably going to be worse and that's not something I'm going to look forward to, we're going to start planning ahead right now," Flemming said. "I'm not the type of person to jump ship by no means, but I am also a realist."
The new budget puts the district into the black. They now have $8 million set aside in reserve funds.
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