New hope for keeping open at least the rest of this year has been kindled by an anonymous donor's pledge to match any additional donations up to $250,000, school head Ilana Kaufman said Friday afternoon.
At the same time, the school's petition to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy was granted by the court today, the school said in a letter posted on its website. The bankruptcy gives Windrush temporary protection from creditors, but Windrush must demonstrate to the Bankruptcy Court on Oct. 7 that it has enough pledges to keep the school operating until June, the letter said.
The school administration and trustees Tuesday night when they told the staff and parents that the school may have to close Oct. 28 because of a large bond debt and dropping enrollment.
The private, progress education-oriented school has begun an emergency fund-raising drive, saying it needs to have $900,000 in pledged support by Oct. 7. Kaufman said $300,000 in pledges has been raised so far, and that every additional dollar up to $250,000 will be matched by an anonymous Bay Area resident.
"It just bowled me over," she said of the matching pledge. "It's so exceptional."
What the 35-year-old school calls "an unprecedented fiscal crisis" stems from a drop in enrollment and the debt on a $13 million bond incurred in 2007 to build the new middle school/library building and refurbish the gym.
Enrollment dropped from 259 students when the bond was issued to 165 today, causing a drop in tuition income. The trustees found they could not continue making payments on the debt and asked the bondholders to restructure the deal, the trustees said in a letter sent to parents Wednesday.
The bondholders declined to agree to terms that the trustees said were necessary and said they would move to seize the school's property, which is collateral for the loan, their letter said. Entering bankruptcy would block a court-sanctioned seizure of school assets by creditors, the letter said.
The comments section of the has become an ongoing forum for debate and pleas for support as well as criticism and praise for the school and those in charge.
Update 4:30 p.m., Friday: In a news release this afternoon, the school said it is "hearing from parents and guardians, alumni, alumni families, faculty and staff, friends and relatives who are filling out pledges. Together, the community is confident that the school can reach its goal to finish the school year." It also provided a link to the donation pledge form at www.windrush.org.