School deals with funding issues - WNCN: News, Weather

School deals with funding issues

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

A longtime Tampa-based cosmetology school has lost a chunk of its staff over payment problems as it deals with funding issues.

Manhattan Hairstyling Academy has about three quarters of a million dollars in federal funding pending for the past few months, said Robert Valdez, Jr. , one of the school's owners.

About 85 percent of the school's funding comes from the federal government in the form of student loan and grant money, he said.

The issues date back to July, when the federal Department of Education changed the way it handles funding for the school, Valdez said. DOE used to pay as students signed up or hit a certain point in their schooling, but changed that method and instead wanted to group students together in "batches" every 30 days, he said.

The payment system is temporary, Valdez said, and DOE wants the school to make changes to certain processes and systems including entrance interviews and software.

Manhattan Hairstyling Academy is still waiting for its first "batch" worth about $250,000 and has another one representing more than $500,000 in aid ready to send DOE after that, he said.

Several former teachers and staff contacted 8 On Your Side about the situation, saying they were owed pay for time worked in recent months.

"It was very, very frustrating," said Caitlin Schwab, a former teacher at the Inverness campus.

Unable to afford to continue making the drive to work without getting paid, Schwab said she quit in early August.

Schwab says some of her paychecks bounced, and although the school paid some of what she was owed, she is still waiting for about $900.

Heather Adams says she worked at Manhattan as a contractor for 30 days this summer, and is owed about $1,900.

"I just kept thinking well as long as I'm doing the work then I'll be compensated for what I've done," Adams said.

Manhattan teachers and staff who contacted News Channel 8 have said they were told by management about the funding issue and possible delay in pay, but some couldn't afford to wait for things to resolve.

"I don't have the money to put in my gas tank to even go up there to work for a promise," Schwab said.

Asked about Manhattan, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education said last month that she could not comment because it was an "ongoing situation." This week, an email to that same spokeswoman prompted an automated response about the government shutdown.

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