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Barring a giant-sized 11th-hour pledge, the International School of Columbus board is expected to vote this afternoon to close the school because of financial constraints.
In a tense and emotional meeting Monday, school officials told more than 100 parents and students that they lacked money to continue to accommodate the more than 100 students. Board President Rich Wagner said the school needs $250,000 to operate until the end of the school year.
The school’s board will meet at 5:30 p.m. today at the school’s National Road location.
Wagner said Tuesday afternoon that the school has received no significant pledges to continue, although he said some parents have expressed interest in starting another charter school.
ISC, two months into its fifth year, serves students in Grades 7 to 12. The school received its charter from Ball State University and teaches the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
Wagner and Head of School Jonah Sims have said that the school will have to close because of unexpected costs at the school’s planned new building, poor fundraising results and declining state funds because of a drop in enrollment.
Wagner said that the school board also will consider keeping the school open a little longer for children with special needs. Several parents said in Monday’s meeting that placing their children would be especially difficult.
If you go
WHAT: International School of Columbus board meeting.
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. today.
WHERE: 3136 N. National Road (west of Kroger).
AGENDA: Expected to vote to close the school because of insufficient funds. School officials have said they need $250,000 to operate the school until the end of the school year.
Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. Superintendent John Quick said that the corporation would have no difficulty absorbing International School students, as they would account for about 1 percent of the total enrollment.
Former School Board President Swadesh Kalsi said the school’s graduates are “globally aware citizens (who) are greatly desired by colleges.”
“If the school were to close, it would be a great loss to the community and would eliminate an education option that is recognized and valued throughout the world,” Kalsi said.
Both Wagner and Kalsi said the International School’s financial difficulties were not caused or affected by improper financial procedures that the Indiana State Board of Accounts most recently identified in an audit filed in September 2011.
In the audit, which covered the operations of the school from summer 2008 to summer 2010, the state board noted deficiencies related to “receipting, recording and accounting for the financial activities.”
The agency noted issues ranging from errors on claims to an overdrawn general fund balance of more than $35,000 to lack of documentation related to payroll.
“School officials were unable to provide written documentation of the approved salaries for school employees,” the state board wrote. “Payment to some employees were made without payroll deductions for taxes.”
The State Board of Accounts also wrote that employees received bonuses at various times during the school year, some of which were paid with federal grant funds, but the state agency found no evidence that the bonuses had been approved by the school board.
In a written response, filed Aug. 1, 2011, school officials said that the deficiencies occurred in a previous administration and that corrective measures had been taken, including the addition of internal control processes, segregation of duties and more timely issuance of receipts.
Kalsi said the audit “did not identify any serious issues, let alone ones that would result in the closing of the school. Any issues brought to the board’s attention by SBOA in the past years were corrected satisfactorily.”
Wagner said Tuesday that an audit this year identified some other minor procedural issues related to finance, including that the school did not have an official policy about what to do if parents failed to pay fees. He said the audit did not reveal anything significant and that any issues found in the audits had nothing to do with the school’s financial issues.
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