Board members at The Village Charter School say they don’t believe the school will have to close because of financial issues.
The statement comes in a letter that the board of trustees posted to the school’s website Monday. The letter also updates parents and stakeholders that board members have decided to break from a company called Veritas Charter School Services LLC., which has provided financial and business oversight at the school for the past two years.
The letter says board members think “the needs of our school are not fully being met” with the Veritas contract.
Board chairman Ben Greenwood said the school is still working out the specifics of the separation agreement, and he would not comment on the details.
The online letter follows a special meeting on Friday, and a two-hour executive session after which the board accepted Veritas’ “resignation.”
Idaho Education News has published stories about The Village’s financial situation after years of debt, and about communications from the Public Charter School Commission which raised the question of “whether and how closure may occur” at the school.
When reached by EdNews last week, Greenwood wouldn’t comment on whether the school might have to shut its doors if it can’t fix the financial situation.
On Monday, Greenwood said the board “hadn’t thought at any point that we were in danger of closing.”
“That’s always something that is a possibility for a charter school,” he added, “but we haven’t exhausted all of those options, at this point.”
Greenwood said in an email that The Village board is working with the charter school commission and stakeholders to take the steps “necessary to avoid closure.” The board is also waiting on the full results of a third-party audit, which Greenwood anticipates in the next two weeks, as it plans for the school’s financial future.
“We really take the stewardship of state and taxpayer money seriously,” Greenwood said, “and this situation is something that we are working diligently to navigate out of.”
Part of the path forward, Greenwood said, is ending the school’s relationship with Veritas. Greenwood said the primary driver for the decision is Veritas’ performance at The Village.
Lori Manning, the founder of Veritas who has been working as the school’s executive director, offered her resignation to The Village board, Greenwood said, and they have accepted it.
Veritas has no set end date at the moment, Greenwood said. The letter on The Village website says that Veritas is still partnering with the school, “to create a smooth transition that serves the needs of the school.”
Greenwood said the board is working on creating a proposal for how they should run the school’s business management without Veritas.
Veritas and The Village have a three-year contract through 2020 that says the company is to receive 9 percent of the $3 million or so of the school’s annual income. Greenwood said the board is working to determine how much of that money the school has already payed out to Veritas, and that payments to the company have been inconsistent.
The board said in a letter it has “seen no evidence of deliberate financial mismanagement or wrongdoing during our relationship with the management company Veritas.”
Last week, EdNews revealed to The Village board that Manning had admitted to violating South Carolina ethics laws after a multi-year investigation into spending at a charter school she ran in that state.
Manning told EdNews that she only admitted to violating those laws because she didn’t have the money to fight the ethics charges in court.
The Village board knew of the inquiry into Manning’s past, Greenwood said last week, but did not know that Manning had signed a consent order to violating South Carolina law in February of this year.
The school does not plan to hire Manning once the Veritas separation is complete, Greenwood said.