Kingsbridge Charter School has Charter Revoked

Money matters in elementary school education.

The Kingsbridge Innovative Design and Charter School on West 231st Street will have its charter officially revoked by the State Board of Regents on the last day of June.

The board took the unprecedented measure because it concluded that the school had not sufficiently addressed the financial issues that lingered throughout its only year of existence.

The recommendation to terminate the charter was handed down by a four-person Regents Review Board on Monday, May 16, and ratified by the full board the following day.

“The school is fiscally unstable and in danger of running out of cash needed to remain in operation at any time,” the decision read. “It would do a disservice to the students and their parents to have the School operate into the next school year only to have it close for fiscal reasons.”

KIDCS, which has 150 students in kindergarten and first grade, was put on probation by the Board of Regents in March. The board’s decision said that both staff and board members expressed concern as early as fall, 2010 that the school was not properly paying into retirement funds, benefits, and expressed concern about whether it would be able to meet payroll.

About 20 teachers and administrators were laid off midway through the school year.School chair and co-founder Julio Torres was naturally miffed at the decision, but he also felt slighted because, since being placed on probation, the school had been approved for loans that he said would allow it to keep operating.“I don’t think we were given a fair shot,” Torres said. “I think they had made up their mind.”

The school hired a CPA and tried to argue that the loans, which totaled over $400,000, were a solution. However, the Board of Regents ruled the credit infusion was not enough.

KIDCS had money problems from day one. Its founders learned last summer that the building they expected to operate out of on Corlear Avenue would not be ready in time for the 2010-11 school year because specially ordered windows were delayed “on a boat from Asia,” according to Torres.

That forced the school to dip into its reserves to pay for the home. KIDCS founders had the option of laying off the teachers it had hired and informing enrolled students that it would actually not be opening for another year.

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