Palm Bay Charter School In Financial Crisis


The city of Palm Bay issued $21 million in bonds to open a charter school, but as of Thursday officials said that school is in a financial crisis.

Investors bought the bonds that built and equipped Palm Bay Community Charter School. Officials said those investors haven't been paid a dollar since January of 2009. On Thursday, the school district said if some other agreement can't be made it must determine just how long it can let the school operate in the red.

Summer session is underway for students at the charter school and while administrators concentrate on academics, the city of Palm Bay said they are working on a plan to remove the charter school from a state of financial emergency.

There is enough money to operate, just not enough to cover its debt to the bond holders that built the school, officials said. The city hopes the investors will allow the school to delay repayment.

"That gives the charter school a chance to operate successfully so they can repay the debt," said Susan Hann, Palm Bay City Manager.

The school's original operator is out of the picture, but the city said it must make sure any modification doesn't obligate taxpayers and the future of the charter school isn't at risk.

Brevard County school officials said they are concerned about the school's finances along with student performance. Last year, the school earned a D-grade from the state. School officials said this year's school report card is still out. Some parents said they stand by the school.

"After what the school showed me and the interaction I really believe they're going to continue to have as much success as they can," said Tonya Andrews, a charter school parent.

In addition to working with students, The charter school officials said they are working on teacher mentoring and training.

"We do have a vested interest in keeping it open," said Hann.

Last year, the charter school received $2.7 million for its students through the school district. District officials said they hoped the debt issue would be resolved by mid-month. The city said they hope to have an agreement as soon as possible.