WELLINGTON, Fla.-- The voices calling for the man in charge of a troubled charter school to resign are getting louder. They claim there is someone willing to pour enough cash to save the Wellington school if the Executive Director of the school steps down.
The rumor is that investors associated with a church that rents space at Eagle Arts Academy are willing to step in if Greg Blount were to resign. On Monday two of the charter's board members met with the leaders of the church to find out how it can help financially.
"He just said he had a potential investor that could save the school, but the one condition was that they oust Greg," said executive director Greg Blount, describing what he was told by the board member who attended the meeting.
But, the church's founder and lead pastor says that's not entirely true.
"We do have some people that are interested in doing whatever they can to help but the school hasn't asked for our help," said Josh Mauney, lead pastor at NewSound Church in Wellington.
And Blount says he won't ask. He wants parents to rally around him and his staff to save the school. But tensions are high among parents.
"You've never reached out to any parent," yelled a parent across the parking lot to Pastor Mauney as he did an interview with WPTV.
"Well, it's a public school ma'am, I just can't do that," responded the pastor.
When I asked Pastor Mauney if he would be willing to have a dialogue with Blount, he said: "he would not be willing to make a statement about Mr. Blount."
Pastor Mauney said there is no set investor ready to step in, but he says the church is open to talking about how it can help.
"We don't have a card to play. There is no ulterior motive. We didn't come here, we don't want to take over a school. We came here to build a great church," added Pastor Mauney.
The school owes at least $500 thousand in rent. The company that manages the property released this statement today:
“Our current focus is helping to ensure that Eagle Arts Academy remains open through the end of the school year. We are monitoring the school’s financial progress and offer full support for the sake of the students, teachers and administrators. We are happy to provide additional information as this situation moves forward," said Matthew Fuller, ESJ Capital Partners’ Chief Investment Officer.
Blount said teachers will be paid next Wednesday. They have not been paid since March 15. The teachers are also owed a check on Friday April 13th that Blount said he is working to raise money for. So far he says parents have donated $6,000 to pay teachers next Friday. He said if every parent donated he would have enough to pay his staff.
"$65 for all 400 students. If each parent could afford, and I know they all can't, $65, then next Friday's payroll is covered," he said.
Other teachers have started a GoFundMe page to help them until they can receive a check.
In the midst of financial issues, Blount said he is trying to make deadlines to provide the School Board of Palm Beach County documentation it needs to prove the school can come up with the finances it needs to operate. A major issue the school is facing besides the lease of the property is enrollment. And since word got out that the school is on a 90-day termination notice unless it can turn its finances around, other charters have swooped in to try and recruit students.
"Disgusting is the only word I have for it," said Blount.
A heated confrontation took place outside of Eagle Arts Academy Thursday night when parents were at the school to meet with teachers and staff and address any concerns or fears.
"They pitched a tent across the street, stopping traffic trying to throw bags in people's cars," said Blount.
A flier is being shared with parents showing Renaissance Charter's three locations in the area: Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, and Lake Worth. Each has set up an open house specifically for Eagle Arts Academy parents so their kids can join their schools now before the school year ends.
"I think it's dishonest. I think whoever is running their school is dishonest," said Natasha Tenn, a parent with two children at Eagle Arts Academy.
Tenn said her daughter has been at the school since it was Wellington Christian. She's been through a shutdown before.
"It feels like I'm doing this all over again," said Tenn. "They have 90 days to take care of this mess and during they 90 days they should, God willing, I am praying they do."
The flier also had a hiring event listed for Monday.