BROCKTON, MASS. (WHDH) - The Brockton School District is starting with a $14 million budget deficit, and a school committee meeting on Wednesday night was packed with parents and residents demanding answers.

“This took us by surprise,” said Tony Rodrigues, a school committee member.

“I think it’s a problem that you were surprised about this,” said a resident. “There was a lack of communication.”

When the shortfall of funds became public last week, Superintendent Mike Thomas took a medical leave. 

“I’m the leader of the school district, and you can’t overspend the budget,” Thomas said, “but, I can tell you every dime went to supporting kids.”

Thomas told 7News that he spent too much money on staffing, safety and transportation.

“Nobody sitting at this table is sitting with 14 million dollars in their pocket,” said Timothy Sullivan, a school committee member.

The school board unanimously approved an independent external audit and investigation. Mayor Richard Sullivan said the school’s chief financial officer and deputy are also off the job, both put on administrative leave.

“The City of Brockton has had massive conversations with the department of revenue,” Sullivan said, “because we need to figure out how to fill this void.” 

Concerned citizens are calling for transparency on where taxpayer dollars are going, and for those responsible for the budget failures to be held accountable.

“We are not making any accusations, but we want only transparency,” another resident said.

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