April 12th, 2011 | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: Schools

Portland Charter School Suspends Classes Due to Financial Problems (Updated)

Trillium Charter SchoolTrillium Charter School boasts of "learning for change." - trilliumcharterschool.org

Trillium Charter School, a K-12 facility in North Portland that serves 350 students, has suspended classes temporarily because of financial difficulties.

In an online message to parents at Trillium, officials with the school say scarce resources and insufficient financial controls created the problem that threatens the school's continued existence.

"The board and new administration of Trillium were informed very recently that our insurers were withdrawing our property and liability and workers' compensation coverage for the school, blaming a history of missed and late payments," an online message from the school's board of directors reads. "As soon as the current Trillium leadership was made aware of this situation, we set about making full payment. However, our property and liability insurance agent was unable to convince that carrier to continue coverage. Despite making full and immediate payment, the company informed the agent last week that they decided to cancel our coverage."

Failure to maintain insurance is grounds for ending a charter school's contract with its sponsoring school district under Oregon law. Portland Public Schools sponsors Trillium, but PPS officials say Trillium should be able to reopen for students if Trillium administrators quickly resolve the school's difficulties.

Trillium administrators have scheduled a Tuesday night meeting to update parents on the school's financial lapse. According to another notice on the school's website, classes may resume as early as Wednesday, April 13.

Trillium's leadership changed in October 2010 when then-executive director Stephanie Hinkle resigned after previously announcing a decision to stay at the school until June 2011, according to a letter to PPS from James Hindes, the president of the school's board of directors. (A copy of that letter is posted here.)

PPS approved Trillium's charter in 2002. The K-12 school was already scheduled to undergo a review in less than a year when this week's issue arose.

Update at 2:50 pm: Genevieve Bouwes, the school's new executive director, says the school's insurance carrier reinstated Trillium's coverage so school can reopen Wednesday, April 13.

 
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