BROWARD SCHOOLS

Teachers at closed Miramar charter school still waiting for bonuses

 

mrvasquez@MiamiHerald.com

Teachers who once taught at Miramar’s Parkway Academy charter school are used to receiving bad news — when the school closed last year, teachers not only had to look for a new job, but they didn’t receive their final month’s pay.

But now the 34 former teachers are getting a pleasant surprise: Parkway’s improved student performance during its final year of operation (its school grade jumped from a F to a C) means its former teachers are entitled to $46,399 in state-funded “School Recognition” dollars.

There’s one problem, though: Because Parkway is now closed, the Broward school district is tasked with distributing the teacher bonuses, and the district says it has struggled to track everyone down.

Parkway left behind scant paperwork on its teaching staff. District spokeswoman Tracy Clark said the only information it had to work with was an employee list that Parkway previously submitted to the state — but that list contained no addresses or phone numbers, only names.

“It’s made this process that much more difficult for everyone, including those deserving teachers,” Clark said.

Broward received the bonus money from the state in late February.

The bonus money would boost the finances of teachers who last year struggled mightily after being deprived of two expected paychecks — some fell behind on their mortgages or missed rent payments. One teacher diagnosed with cancer couldn’t afford his chemotherapy treatments.

Former Parkway teacher Deon Stupart, a single mother of two daughters, said it took until February (when her income tax refund arrived) for her to finally get current on her rent. Stupart said the bonus money will make up for about half of the money Parkway failed to pay her.

Stupart acknowledged that Broward initially had trouble finding Parkway’s teachers, but said she personally tracked down each teacher, and created a list with everyone’s mailing address and contact phone number.

That list was delivered to Broward’s school district two weeks ago, Stupart said.

“I don’t know why they are dragging their feet,” Stupart said. “We worked for it. We moved the school from a F to a C. We deserve it, and I’m just hoping that it comes to us very soon.”

Superintendent Robert Runcie said last week’s Spring Break might have contributed to the delay, but he promised to ensure Parkway’s teachers get their bonuses.

“If there’s a way to easily and quickly determine those are the actual teachers there, then we shouldn’t have an issue doing it,” Runcie said.

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