Bronx Charter School Still at Risk of Closing, State Ed Dept Says

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Despite releasing a round of new financial documents and education plans late last month, a new Bronx charter school appears to be making little ground in its efforts to prevent being shut down by the state's education department.

The Kingsbridge Innovative Design charter school was put on probation in March and was supposed to provide the state with plans for improvements last Friday. But the education department said the submission didn't allay concerns about the small elementary school's fiscal stability and management.

A letter from the state's senior deputy for education, John King, said the school provided documents "in a piecemeal fashion in dozens of emails" over the course of last weekend. And it gave no evidence that it has sufficient cash flow for May and June, or for the years ahead.

"The school presents insufficient and contradictory organizational plans for financial management and control," the letter continued.

Five teachers were recently dismissed and the school has no instructional leader. The state said the school also violated its own educational program, which was originally based on having two teachers in each class of kindergarten and first-graders and on teaching a second language. It did note, however, that a number of parents have expressed satisfaction with the school and spoke out in favor of it at a recent hearing.

The school's co-founder, Julio Cotto said he disagrees with the state's report and that he'll be submitting new materials on Monday.

"There are some technical clarifications that we will also provide," he said, adding that the school has secured a commitment for a $200,000 bridge loan to cover immediate expenses. "As for cash flow for the years ahead we will also demonstrate some edits to previously submitted plans to meet the State's satisfaction."

Cotto said he also has good candidates to take over the position of instructional leader, and that the school has accepted new classes of kindergarten and first graders for the coming fall.

The Board of Regents will take up the school's fate at its meetings on May 16 to 17. It's highly unusual to shut down a charter school, but the Regents have done so seven times in New York City for various causes.