WELLINGTON, Fla. - A charter school in Wellington that struggled to pay teachers on time the last few months of the school year is making plans to open up again in the fall, but the school's fate ultimately lies with a judge.
"We’re continuing to move forward," said Greg Blount, executive director of Eagle Arts Academy.
The Palm Beach County School Board voted to close Eagle Arts Academy back in March due to financial issues.
"It's not really truly financial mismanagement as they call it," Blount said. "The issue is we had low enrollment from this past school year and we have, from the other side, a lease that requires us to pay on 1,045 kids where we only had, last year, 429."
The charter school appealed the school board's decision. A hearing for that appeal is now scheduled for July 12 in the Department of Hearings and Appeals.
The hearing was originally scheduled for May 31, but Jim Pegg, director of charter schools for Palm Beach County School District, said attorneys for Eagle Arts Academy asked for a continuance. The judge rescheduled the hearing to July 12.
The 2018-2019 school year starts August 13 and the judge's decision could take around 30 days to come down, Pegg said.
He said the district asked to expedite the decision because of the tight timing with the beginning of the school year, but the judge isn't expected to give a ruling any faster.
In the meantime, Blount is enrolling students and preparing for the upcoming school year.
"Even with all this going on, it’s all about those families that did not find their home or their place in a public school and they found their home at Eagle Arts," he said.
He said he's working with the landlord to resolve the issues with the lease that led to tight finances.
Enrollment is the other focus right now. Blount said he has recommitments from current students and applications are coming in every day for new students.
As for teachers, eight don’t plan to return of the 40-person staff, Blount said.