Many parents in the DeKalb County said they welcome an investigation by the school district's accrediting agency.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has asked the school board to respond to charges it has mismanaged the district and its budget.
"When you're setting a budget, whether it's for your household or your business, you look at your past history," said SACS K-12 President Mark Elgart. "If each year you're budgeting $1 million, but spending $10 million, wouldn't you make an adjustment to your budget at some point in time?"
Elgart said SACS is concerned that the district recently slashed $80 million from its budget, laid off workers and increased class size. He said even the school system's reserve fund is $22 million in the red.
"We're concerned that if you're over expending in one area, where are you taking that money from?" Elgart asked. "How much of that money could've been diverted to the classroom to support what happens in classrooms?"
Elgart said SACS has seen school systems in the same financial shape as DeKalb shut down completely.
"It's a long school year. You don't know what's going to happen and you don't know how your unanticipated expenses are going to be handled," Elgart said. "They have no wiggle room, so to speak."
Many parents have also questioned the school board's budget decisions. They wonder why SACS did not step in sooner.
"My question is not to the school board," said Gil Hearn of Parents for DeKalb Schools. "My questions is to SACS. Why have you taken so long to take action in a system that's desperate in need of help?"
Elgart said SACS has worked with the DeKalb district since 2010 to make improvements but is not happy with the progress the system has made. After dozens of new complaints were filed recently, he said the agency will take a closer look at the district.
"I'm not happy with it," said Silky Samuel whose child attends Stone Mountain Elementary. "But if all the parents don't rally together and try to voice our opinions to make a change, then a change will never come."
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