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Florida Department of Education withholds capital outlay payments for three charter schools



The hits just keep on coming for Pinellas charter schools run by a plagued management company.

The Florida Department of Education announced Thursday that it will withhold state capital outlay payments for Newpoint Pinellas Academy and Newpoint Pinellas High, a middle school and high school that share a location in a Clearwater strip mall, because of their deteriorating financial conditions. The schools are operated by Newpoint Education Partners, a management company with a history of school closures and financial red flags.

In a letter addressed to Robert Pergolizzi, the board chair for Newpoint Pinellas Academy as well as Windsor Preparatory Academy and East Windsor Middle Academy in St. Petersburg, state charter school director Adam Emerson explained that the schools' future eligibility of capital outlay depends on "evidence of future financial stability."

The letter added that capital outlay for Windsor Prep, which has a deficit of almost $1 million as of its last fiscal year which ended in June, has been on hold. The letters said the funding was on hold pending the release of Windsor's 2014-15 school grade, which was a C, and will remain on hold until the approval of its corrective action plan.

A similar letter was sent to Jack Eichert, the board chair for Newpoint Pinellas High. Eichert did not return calls for comment.

Individual corrective action plans for the three schools, Newpoint Pinellas High, Newpoint Pinellas Academy and Windsor Prep, are due to the state by April 5. Emerson detailed the requirements of these plans in the letter, which should include a description and timeline of the actions to be taken, procedures for monitoring the implementation of the plan and additional financial statements.

Newpoint Pinellas High was on track to receive a total of $37,369 in charter school capital outlay funds by June 2016. It was unclear on Friday how much Windsor Prep and Newpoint Pinellas Academy were on track to receive. Past financial statements show that Windsor Prep received $179,211 in funds for its 2014-15 fiscal year.

Pergolizzi said he received Emerson's letter in an email Friday morning. He said he is now "seriously considering the relationship with Newpoint Education Partners."

"The more I hear, the more unhappy I get," he said. "I have been inundated with emails and phone calls. I'm trying to get my work done here."

Newpoint Education Partners president Eileen Quinlan could not be reached for comment.

Pergolizzi said he is working with Rick Wolfe, the Pinellas County school district's director of charter schools and home education, to respond to Wolfe's letter listing seven concerns regarding Windsor Prep by the March 11 deadline. 

[Last modified: Friday, March 4, 2016 4:39pm]


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