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Teachers at Wellington charter school still teaching, not getting paid

Posted at 6:08 PM, Apr 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 06:47:22-04

School is still in session at a Wellington charter school despite the fact the school doesn't have the money to pay its teachers. 

Right before the Easter weekend, teachers and staff at Eagle Arts Academy Charter School were told they would not get their paychecks. 

"We didn't get paid because there's just no money," said Marlene Ortiz who teaches second grade reading at the school. 

It's now day five and Ms. Ortiz said she's had to push back due dates for all of her bills. 

"We have teachers right now that don't know how they are going to pay their rent, they are already getting eviction notices," she said. 

The executive director of the school promises money is coming in the next 48 hours. Greg Blount said he's trying to get an advance from the school district for the month of April, if that doesn't come through he said another finance company may help. 

"I'm very sorry that this is going on. Last Monday was an amazing day. We got the commitment from the Boys and Girls Club and we got a donor to give $250,000 and then on Tuesday my financing partner says we're not going to fund payroll," said Blount. 

The school district put the charter on a 90-day corrective action plan last month to figure out its financial issues and secure a lease, but Blount says there is money for the remainder of the year. 

"I don't want promises, at this point all I want is my check. I want my money," said Catherine Gonzalez who is also a second grade teacher at the school. "Yes, we're here. We're still trying to teach the kids, but for how long?"

Blount gave teachers a $300 stipend on Tuesday to hopefully hold them over until he has funds for their paychecks. 

Some teachers are willing to wait till the next pay day on April 11, others don't know if they will be able to wait that long for their next paycheck. 

"Who wants to keep coming to a job when you're not getting paid regardless if you love doing what you do?" said Ortiz. 

Enrollment at the school is down 36 percent, which Blount said created the financial hardship. Blount said he has tried to negotiate the lease with the landlord who is asking for $1.1 million. 

"At 433 students, it's just impossible to do that. Now I remained hopeful that I could renegotiate the lease with the landlord, to date he has not done that," added Blount. 

Blount also said that back in February he paid his own company, a software company that created the software that runs the school and the brand licensing. He said he will not be paid a stipend or get a paycheck until his employees can all be paid. 

Ms. Ortiz and Ms.Gonzalez both said they are frustrated with the short notice about the lack of funds. 

"I have to provide for my family, unfortunately, nowadays one income is not enough," said Gonzalez. 

"Everything has been pushed back, rent hadn't been paid, nothing has been paid because I didn't get paid. I don't have the funds for it," added Ortiz. 

Blount hopes the district will advance the charter the funds for April to make payroll, then he says he can work on increasing enrollment for next year. 

"I'm confident that I can get us to 700 or 800 students by June 1 and at a $6 million school, all of this goes away," added Blount. 

The school district is still looking into answers for questions we have about possible conversations it has had with Eagle Arts Academy regarding finances.