DeKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- DeKalb County Schools is working to regain trust in the district after mold, overcrowding and an overwhelming repair backlog raised concerns among parents.

Now, the chief operations officer is responding with a plan for improvements. Dan Drake oversees operations for the district.

“As a parent, I would be happy to send my students to any of these Dekalb County Schools,” Drake said. “It’s not ideal, but it’s - I would have no problem sending my kid.”

Facilities, maintenance and how to address overcrowding are responsibilities that land on him.

11Alive showed him the stack of more than 2,200 work orders still open in the district just 10 days before school starts. We also asked him how parents should feel about seeing work orders dating back three years – some regarding serious issues like fire safety.

“Our fire safety is our number one priority and if there’s any of those concerns those would be the top ones that we address,” he said.

A week earlier, parents came together in Dunwoody fed up and looking for answers.

"When the hallways are so overcrowded, it’s impossible to keep tabs on the students and if we had an emergency I think it would be very dangerous for students to exit the building safely," parent Tina Wilkinson said.

Drake said student safety and staff are paramount. He also said plans are in motion to fix the problems.

“The long-term plan is that we have many additions that are in place and tear down and rebuilds of elementary schools,” he said.

And if those proposed plans go through, additions to four high schools could break ground in 2021. It would help eliminate nearly 400 portable classrooms used across the district.

“Overcrowding doesn’t mean there are more students in the classroom,” Drake said. “It means there are more classrooms that are needed.”

Dunwoody parents believe rezoning could solve the problem faster and more cheaply.

“The problem with the redistricting is you have one part of the county where you have need for addition and very far away you have other parts of the county where there are available seats,” Drake said.

Drake is optimistic about the district’s progress.

But, it’s not likely those 2,200 work orders will get resolved before school starts.

Outstanding work order requests

  • Carpentry = 548
  • HVAC = 411
  • Roof = 357
  • Electrical = 234
  • Grounds = 137
  • Kitchen Equipment = 126
  • Plumbing = 109
  • Glazing = 98
  • Painting and Pressure Washing = 85
  • Fire Safety = 59
  • Locksmith = 58
  • Pest Control = 38
  • Equipment Repair = 35
  • Warehouse = 30
  • Housekeeping = 22
  • Hazardous =17
  • Electronics = 15
  • Mechanical Equipment = 9
  • Inspection = 8
  • Delivery = 7
  • Vendor = 7
  • Mason/ Concrete = 6
  • Furnishing = 4
  • Environmental SVCS = 3
  • Energy Management = 2
  • Administrative = 2
  • Insulation = 1
  • Welding = 1

Outstanding request by Region

  • Region 2 = 527
  • Region 5 = 513
  • Region 6 = 280
  • Region 3 = 267
  • Region 4 = 185
  • Region 7= 168
  • Region 1= 76