Taylor International Academy on track to run out of cash before end of school year

Posted at 8:44 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 20:44:12-04

The Taylor International Academy’s school board voted to dissolve effective June 30th due to financial troubles.  The school is on track to run out of money as of June 2.  The school year runs through June 30.

It has parents wondering how it will impact their children. It has teachers and staff wondering if they will be paid.

Their school’s board told them they have no idea whether they will be paid for hours they already worked, because their pay for 10 months of work is distributed over the course of 12 months.

“We want our money,” said Jacqueline Robinson, Teacher.

Seven Action News reached out over the phone to the school board president and the management company Renaissance School Services, but did not hear back before deadline. 

Renaissance School Services is located in New Jersey.  Staff members say the management company used to have a physical presence at the school, but has not lately.

The school is authorized by Central Michigan University.  In Michigan universities are able to give charter schools the right to exist. Authorizing universities receive 3% of the school’s per pupil funding in exchange for providing oversight.

Seven Action News spoke to the Communications Manager for The Center for Charters at CMU, Janelle Brzezinski.

“Really the board is responsible for the management of the school,” said Brzezinski.  “And we contract with them giving them the opportunity to govern that school.”

She said CMU is not responsible for ensuring teachers get paid, however, “We are committed to assisting the school as much as we can if they do end up with a shortfall.”

Renee Jenkins, Dean of Students at Taylor International Academy says she and her staff want to know when the management company, the board, and the university knew they were in such trouble. She wonders if the problems should have been addressed earlier, but for the sake of money, were not.

“Were we set up for failure?” asks Jenkins.

Michigan has been criticized for having lax accountability laws for charter schools.  Charter schools are often run by businesses, but sometimes other schools or organizations. They are funded with tax dollars.  Advocates say they provide options in education for the public.

“This is a new world that were seeing with Betsy DeVos,” said Jacqueline Robinson, a teacher at the school. “Businesses come in. They are businesses and they are coming into education, into our schools. They can’t make their money? Oh well. They will pull out and leave.”