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Shuttered charter school teachers may not be paid

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A charter school with plans to create a permanent location in Spring Hope has closed, and it remains unclear if teachers and staff will receive payment for their final month of work.

Global Achievers School, which opened last August in the historic Spaulding school building and had to be relocated to Rocky Mount, closed its doors on Dec. 14. Since then, officials said they have worked to transfer student files to their designated schools to ensure a smooth transition. Lisa Swinson, founder and principal of Global Achievers, said that while the majority of students are going back to their designated public schools, a few are being home-schooled or are attending a virtual charter school.

The school’s financial viability had become a concern due to low enrollment numbers. Global Achievers estimated 240 students would be enrolled for the 2018-19 year in its original charter, but adjusted its break-even number from 150 to 110 over the summer.

School enrollment dropped to 63 students in October. As of Nov. 29, enrollment had dropped to just 47 students. The state requires a minimum of 80 students to operate as a charter school. Global Achievers had students in grades K-3, with plans to add an additional grade each year through eighth grade.

In November, teachers at the school were notified of a reduction in pay to account for the funding decrease due to low enrollment. The same month, several teachers reported their paychecks bounced, although Swinson said the matter was rectified the next day.

No one at Global Acheivers, including Swinson, has received pay for the month of December. Swinson said this is due to the segmenting of allotted state funds. The state Department of Public Instruction gave the school a portion of its funds in July and November, and was scheduled to make a third payment in January. However, with the charter’s immediate revocation, that payment has not been made.

According the state Board of Education’s regulations regarding charter revocation, 10 percent of the remaining adjusted funds may be held in reserve pending the results of the closing audit performed by an accounting firm designated by the state. Once the audit is complete, the regulations state “the charter school may request, in writing, any remaining state and federal funds through the (Department of Public Instruction’s) School Business Division.”

An email the school’s board of directors sent to teachers and staff states in part, “DPI sent notification that they are still determining which and how much of our federal funds will be released sometime in January. They further noted that these monies have to be used for specific purposes. We are hoping that they approve us to use the monies for salaries.”

Swinson praised the teachers at Global Achievers.

“ We had awesome teachers, and the majority of them have already gotten new positions.”

Swinson said she also has received job offers but is working to make the school closure process as smooth as possible.

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