ALBANY, GA (WALB) - There are still more questions than answers for teachers, parents and students in Randolph County. They continue to wonder if school will start as scheduled next month. They also wonder why school starting on time is even an issue they're facing right now.
School board members say the problem is the budget and whether it was legally passed last month. The issue is just another addition to a growing list of school problems in the county but parents say this one is hurting the students.
Dozens of parents filled the small Randolph County School board room demanding answers Tuesday evening. "Our children are the ones paying for all that's going on," said one parent.
The outpouring was so huge that board members had to move the meeting to the cafeteria where concern grew even more. "It comes down to that point of August 3rd. Where will my children and everyone else's children go to school?," asked a parent.
"Well our intent is for students to go back to school on the third," said School Board Chairman Henry Cook.
Big questions arose after a June 30th school board meeting where three board members voted and approved the budget. Two other members, including Cook, did not. "The budget was not legally approved by state guidelines so we need to do that legally," said Cook.
Cook maintains the budget was not legally passed June 30th because it wasn't formally recommended to the board by School Superintendent Bobby Jenkins. However, it's the same budget that was tentatively passed by members at a meeting June 6th.
"It must be done through the legal process and that's what we are trying to do," said Cook.
After the June 30th meeting, Cook announced that since the votes weren't valid by what he calls legal standards, school couldn't legally start. "We must have a legally approved budget and it wasn't done properly," said Cook.
Tuesday, one meeting was held with three board members at 1 in the afternoon. Cook, Jenkins and John Davis showed up for a separate meeting in the evening. So did parents. They wonder why the board can't just come together for the sake of the children.
One asked, "If we are concerned about our children, when are you all going to come off of the playground and get it together?"
There's also concern from students and parents about the county losing its accreditation. The school system is already on probation by the state. "We're going to always do what we can do to make sure there's no accreditation lost in the school system," said Cook.
To move forward, Cook says he was ready to legally approve a budget at this latest meeting. Other members still say it's already passed with a majority vote and they'll head to court to prove it. "Eventually I think we'll all come together for one common cause. I just have to think that way," said Cook.
Despite it all, it's still up in the air what will be the ultimate thing that gets students and teachers back in class.
A court petition was filed against the school board chairman and the superintendent by board members Dymple McDonald, Don Smith and James Mock last week. The writ of mandamus will allow a judge to step in and resolve the issue with the hopes of getting school started. School board members head to court July 30th.
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