Schools | WCTV Eyewitness News | Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

[UPDATE] Innovation School Makes Changes

By: Lanetra Bennett; Jill Chandler Email
By: Lanetra Bennett; Jill Chandler Email

[UPDATE] 9-15 5:50PM --

A Tallahassee Christian School has had it's financial ups and downs over the past few months, but the school has made tough choices to get back on track.

Innovation School of Excellence has seen a 65%decrease in enrollment since they made news headlines in July.

Teachers came forward saying they were not getting their paychecks. To make up for their financial woes,schools officials had to cut about ten jobs. They say the hard decisions are paying off.

"It's better because the students have more hands on with the teachers," said Jack Leland, the CEO of Innovation Schools.

The dip in enrollment means smaller class sizes. At first parents were worried about their kids education, but now they feel confident.

Ted Jerome is a parent of two students at the school. He said, " One of the first instincts you have is to make sure your children are getting the best education, and you want to make sure the children have a safe environment."

Innovation Schools has started a new program to help young black males in the community.

"Teach them the positive side of pulling their pants up, wearing a shirt and tie. It gives them a different outlook on life than what the TV shows now," said Nitika Fryson who is helping with the program.

Innovation is also different from most schools because of it's Christian based, year-round schooling.

Parents we talked to say it's good for the children to avoid the "summer time slip" in learning.

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[UPDATE] 7-12 2:20pm -

Terrell Davis, Assistant Principal to School-Aged Students, says employees are getting paid today.

Stay with WCTV for details.

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[UPDATE] 7-11-11

Administrators at Innovation School of Excellence in Tallahassee are speaking out tonight after recent backlash about employees not getting paid.

Teachers expressed their anger last Friday saying they hadn't received a paycheck for the past month.

Administrators say Innovation School of Excellence is going through a financial crunch.

They say everyone's in the same boat. It's not just the teachers -- no one's getting paid, but administrators say they hope to quickly resolve the issue.

"It is true that no employee at Innovation School of Excellence has been paid yet," says Terrell Davis, the assistant principal for school-aged students at Innovation School of Excellence in Tallahassee.

He says no one's been paid because the school is facing financial hardships.

Davis says, "In order to fix a problem, you must recognize there is a problem. Unfortunately, this blew up in our faces saying, 'hey, there's a problem' and now we're responding to it."

Paychecks for the previous month were supposed to go out July 5.

Davis says the school's financial struggles are the result of a strain that's built up over the past few months.

Many fingers are being pointed in this situation. Some of the teachers say they believe the blame for employees not getting paid at Innovation School of Excellence solely falls on the new leadership.

One teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, says "Our previous director, Elder Young, I feel that if he was still here, he would've made a way, regardless. If he had to go without, he would've made a way for his employees to have what they needed."

Davis says, "It's not just the board making silly decisions; it's not the CEO making silly decisions and it's not just the head of finance making silly decisions, or the old executive director. It just wasn't caught in the past. It is my belief that this was going to come out if Elder Young was here or not."

Davis says, "Those who handle the finances, let them do their jobs. We continue to do our jobs, and everything will work out fine."

Davis says there is no way to pinpoint who or exactly what caused the problem. He say the focus now is solving it.

Davis says everyone is expected to get paid by the end of the week.

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Payday has come and gone and teachers at one Tallahassee school say the money train missed their bank accounts.

Staff members say they're upset because they haven't been paid.

Teachers at Innovation School of Excellence in Tallahassee say now is not the time to be missing a paycheck.

They say it's three days past payday and they're still waiting on answers and their money.

Teachers at Innovation School of Excellence in Tallahassee say July 5 was payday, but they haven't gotten paid.

One teacher who's worked at Innovation for six years says, "It really upsets me. I'm not able to pay my landlord the rent, my light bill, get things that my two-year old daughter needs. It's just ridiculous."

The teachers did not want to be identified, but they wanted to speak out.

They say none of the employees have gotten a paycheck for last month.

Staff members say they were told that the school does not have the funds.

A 13-year veteran teacher at Innovation says, "I was down because I know I got bills and my bills are due. I need to get food in my house. I just don't have the funds now."

One teacher says, "I started working here in 2006 school year and that was right after the church burned down. Even then, we still never missed a paycheck. It was always provided for us."

Another teacher who has worked there for two years says, "Elder Young would've made a sacrifice for us to get paid. I know he would have. But, the head CEO is Jack P. Leland."

One of the teachers says, "They expect me to come to work every day for free. I just can't do it."

Many of the teachers say they're willing to continue working for the kids' sake, but they say they hope to get their money by next week.

Eyewitness News tried to reach out to administrators, but were unable to get a comment.


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