Despite worries, Eagle Arts teachers report receiving full paychecks

Teachers and staff at Eagle Arts Academy reported receiving their full paychecks Friday after weeks of worries that the cash-strapped charter school wouldn’t be able to make payroll this week.

Employees at the 425-student school had been working without pay for the past two weeks but received back pay on Wednesday and then their full paychecks on Friday.

RELATED: While struggling to pay staff, Eagle Arts pays its leader for its own name

The payout elated teachers and marked a turnabout from a week ago, when the school’s executive director said that he expected to be tens of thousands of dollars short of the money needed to pay staffers Friday.

“We got them, thank God!” said second-grade teacher Marlene Ortiz Friday.

Receiving full pay is likely to calm teachers who a week ago were wondering how they would pay rent and bills on time. The school’s executive director, Gregory Blount, did not respond to a message requesting comment Friday.

Teachers say they are bracing for more paycheck problems at the end of the month. The staff’s next payday is April 30, but the school is not slated to receive another payment from the school district until the second week of May.

That raises the prospect that teachers might have to go an extra two weeks without a paycheck, raising further questions about how long the school can continue operating.

“It’s hanging by a thread,” said Catherine Gonzalez, a second grade teacher who was fired this week. “He (the school’s director) is already saying he doesn’t know how he’s going to cover the (April) 30th paycheck.”

The K-8 school once had more than 700 students, but its enrollment fell this year to about 425.

The drop in student enrollment meant less money from the state, even though many of the school’s fixed costs remain the same.

The county school board plans to close the school at the end of the academic year unless it can balance its budget and pay more than $700,000 in back rent that it owes to the campus’ property owner.

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