- Associated Press - Sunday, July 20, 2014

DE PERE, Wis. (AP) - A private school in De Pere has closed and filed for bankruptcy, leaving some parents out nearly $30,000 in tuition payments.

The Wisconsin International School filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy this month after notifying staff and parents by email the school was shutting down immediately, Press-Gazette Media reported (https://gbpg.net/1oZi2vI ) Saturday.

The school has estimated assets of $50,000 but liabilities of about $550,000, according to the bankruptcy filing.

Under a Chapter 7 filing, a business sells off its assets and shuts down. A trustee is appointed to divide the assets, and claims that can’t be paid may be erased.

That means staffers who haven’t been paid their wages and parents who already prepaid student tuitions may be out of luck.

Two families each paid more than $29,000 in tuition, and several others paid about $19,000, according to the filing. Others paid anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.

School executives also stand to lose money. Todd Thiel, the former school board president who co-signed the letter announcing the school’s closure, had paid $17,350 in tuition, and former school director Mary Vanden Busch is owed $15,346 in wages, the filing said.

School officials offered little explanation when they shut down the school last month after six years. It sent letters to parents saying it couldn’t balance its books due to declining enrollment and fundraising shortfalls.

The school said it was on pace to enroll 120 students for the upcoming year, a 30 percent drop from the 171 students in the last year. Fundraising efforts also fell 30 percent short of budget, the letter said.

School representatives will be required to attend an Aug. 21 meeting with creditors and a bankruptcy judge.

Nicole Donart-Manty, whose son will be entering kindergarten, paid $815, or about 10 percent, of next year’s tuition. She said she was angry that school officials never warned her of their financial difficulties.

“If they had said something, I am sure parents and families would have opened their pockets,” she said.

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Information from: Press-Gazette Media, https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com

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