After months of payment delays, confusion and miscommunication, the main contractor managing Florida's school voucher program expects to be caught up this week.
We've been following the state's school voucher money mess since October.
For months, we've heard from small private school owners who said they've had to tap into their personal savings accounts, dip into 401 (k) plans and also take out high-interest loans just to keep the lights on and the doors opened.
Now, the state's contractor said schools can expect the money by the end of the week.
According to Step Up For Students, the nonprofit distributing most of Florida's school voucher funds, they anticipate all first-quarter funding to be paid out by the end of this week.
Lawmakers take up expansion of voucher program for special needs
It's been a rough start for the state's newly expanded voucher program.
With more than 300,000 students enrolled, the estimated $4 billion program is considered the largest school voucher program in the U.S., but it's come at a price to dozens of smaller private schools in the state who tell us they've had a tough time getting the money.
Earlier this week, we spoke with an operator who is still waiting for thousands of dollars in outstanding payments.
"They're so delayed that all of our bills are delayed because all of our bills are delayed," Nicole Green of Learning Forward Education said. "There's late fees and because we have additional late fees now we've gone into this financial hole that is just so challenging because who knows how we're going to get out of it."
Since that interview, her school has received all outstanding payments.
A spokesperson from Step Up For Students attributes the delays this quarter to a whole new payment process governed by the state's new voucher law.
During a special session earlier this week, lawmakers voted to expand vouchers to include more students with disabilities. Next week, Step Up For Students will begin distributing second quarter funding.