US schools business agreed to repay expenses claimed from academy operator Aurora

US schools business agreed to repay expenses claimed from academy operator Aurora

The for-profit US parent  company of multi-academy trust Aurora agreed to repay expenses it had claimed for overseas based directors of the East Sussex operation to attend conferences in the UK.

Aurora Academies Trust runs four primary academies in East Sussex. The trust was set up by Mosaica  Education UK, a subsidiary of Mosaica Education Inc (MEI)  – an American company running schools in the US, India and the United Emirates.  The chair of the AAT trust board Gene Eidelman is also president of Mosaica Education.

Aurora pays Mosaica £100 per pupil per year in royalties to use its curriculum.

Chief executive officer of AAT Tim McCarthy told Schools Week that MEI paid for Aurora directors based overseas to attend some Aurora meetings in the UK and reclaimed these travel expenses from Aurora.

“We were later advised that Aurora is not permitted to pay for overseas travel for its directors. Therefore MEI agreed to repay the expenses it had already claimed.”

AAT’s latest set of accounts for the year ending August 31 2014 show that in 2012/2013, £53,004 in travel and expenses for five directors were reimbursed to MEI by Aurora. According to the accounts, the majority of this related to overseas travel and MEI agreed to refund this amount to the company. During the year £14,856 was given back to AAT, leaving £37,393 .

Fees of £190,000 were paid to MEI by Aurora during 2013/2014  – substantially lower than the £391,234 paid to MEI in 2012/2013.

Mr McCarthy told Schools Week this was because the 2012/2013 fees “included educational services provided during the pre-opening phase of our four academies plus my salary, because at that time I was paid via MEI”.

The 2013/2014 accounts also show that one director, who is an employee of the company, owed the trust £37,108 at August 31 2014. This is in relation to salary deductions which were not taken from their gross remuneration. A monthly repayment plan has been agreed with the director and the balance “will be repaid in full by August 31 2014”, according to the accounts.

Mr McCarthy said: “The employee was originally treated as self-employed and was paid a gross amount. We were later advised that the employee should be included on the Aurora payroll with the relevant deductions made.

“Aurora agreed a figure with HMRC for the outstanding salary deductions. The total sum was paid by Aurora and the amount owed by the employee is being repaid and will be repaid in full to Aurora by the end of the current financial year.

“ We have been advised that providing the name of the employee may constitute a breach of the Data Protection Act so we cannot disclose it as requested.”

The accounts show that in 2013/2014 AAT paid £118,803 in curriculum fees to MEI.

The four academies operated by AAT are King Offa Primary Academy, Glenleigh Park Primary Academy, Oakwood Primary Academy and Heron Park Primary Academy.