Windrush Head Leaving, Board Says

The head of embattled Windrush School will cease acting as administrator and attend to financial tasks for the next three months, after which she will leave, the board announced today. New board members also have been elected.

Another milestone in the by El Cerrito's 35-year-old Windrush School was reported today, Wednesday, when the school's board announced that the controversial head of school, Ilana Kaufman, will no longer serve as the school's administrator effective Dec. 12.

Kaufman will instead focus on "the substantial reporting compliance tasks" of the that Windrush reached with its creditors until March 15, at which time she will step down as Head of School, the board of trustees said in a statement to parents and other members of the Windrush community.

The change in leadership also includes the election of 11 new board members, the board statement said.

The board said "daily supervision of the faculty and staff will be delegated to other administrators, and leadership of the school as a whole will be reset by the new Board."

The K-8 private school filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 30, and after several court hearings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court and rounds of negotiation, the school and the creditors reached an agreement on Dec. 1 to allow the school to continue operating at least until the end of the current year, if the school meets .

Kaufman has been the target of vociferous criticism in reader comments on Patch, and a meeting of parents and some staff shortly after the Windrush financial crisis was announced Sept. 27 with her leadership.

The school defaulted earlier this year on debt payments owed on a $13 million bond issued in 2007 to build the new middle school/library building. The bondholders, represented by Wells Fargo Bank as their trustee, went to court to seize the school, which is collateral for the debt.

The board statement also thanked Kaufman for her contributions to the school: "Ilana has been a guiding force for all of us in these difficult times, and has provided immeasurable help in our successful navigation of the chapter 11 process and negotiations with the bondholders.  We are grateful to Ilana for all that she has given to the school, and for the financial assistance that she will provide in meeting bondholder settlement requirements.  Collectively, the Board and Ilana recognize that it is now time to pass the baton on to others, and therefore we have reached an agreement for the conclusion of her service."

"Now that a settlement has been reached with our bondholders," the board said. "Windrush School has a clear path to remaining open until June 30 and potentially beyond. ... We believe these actions will give our community the certainty, stability, and fresh burst of energy we need to meet the challenges ahead. Thank you for your passionate devotion to this school and your willingness to help us in the ultimate cause of providing our children with an excellent progressive education."

For more background on the Windrush crisis, you can see our past stories by clicking "Windrush School" next to Related Topics below this article. For alerts on future Windrush stories, click the "Keep me posted!" button below the article. We've also posted a list with links to all Patch stories on the Windrush crisis at the top of our original article, "Crisis at Windrush School: Threat of Imminent Closure."

disappointed parent December 11, 2011 at 07:39 AM
and now the link is on youtube, click on it if you just can't get enough http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1L6E6dq4xc
Vivaldi December 11, 2011 at 12:31 PM
Ira, I'm also a numbers person and also not part of WR community. I appreciate your interest. But I think that now isn't the time to post much along these lines. The numbers focus right now can be taken as callous disregard for the emotional journey the WR community finds itself on. I think you're right that this should be a case study. But I think right now that for now, those of us outside the community need to stay aware of how very difficult this journey is for the WR students, parents, teachers, staff, and others.
El Richmondo December 11, 2011 at 07:25 PM
I really feel for the remaining families of Windrush, who (at least to me) seem to be stuck with a wretched choice: 1) Leave for a new school, and risk having your child be student #105, the one whose departure pulls the plug on the whole school, or 2)stay, and be left with no place for your child when others leave and force the school to close.
Ira Sharenow December 11, 2011 at 08:37 PM
Friday is the last day of school. Hopefully parents can do organized phone calling next weekend in order to get an accurate count of students and finances. I would not blame any family for pulling its child and thus reducing the total number of students to below 105. The parents are not responsible. I think the agreement is structured so that the school closes at the end of this semester and the parties to the agreement can say they did their best to keep the school open as long as possible
Luke Sides December 11, 2011 at 08:55 PM
That’s why it’s clearly not the right way to approach this settlement. With this route, at least after informing all the families of the cuts, lay offs, changes, do an anonymous survey. It must be made clear to the families the details such as IK’s settlement, her role in the remaining months, how much pledge money they can expect will come through, the board situation, ect. No sugar coating! The facts! After the survey, if the number is not there, start the closing process. True, even if the number is there, it could change but at least there is a something to go on. Back in Sept, the families wanted to do this survey openly in a meeting, but the lawyer and the board shot that down fast. They said it would hurt their fight. Here we are two months later and it comes down to this issue. What they are doing right now is once again increase what is already a hostile environment, and imagine, doing this for two months? I think the settlement could have handled much differently.
Still Very Concerned December 11, 2011 at 09:40 PM
Many of the remaining families may be those who were given a discount for paying for the whole year. This was done with the leadership knowing they would be defaulting on the loan. It may be fraud but still the families would be out that money if the school closed. I understand their reluctance to transfer. At this point, even with a wind down beginning in January, their student could still be at the school until the beginning of February. The longer the school stays open the more services that they paid for will be delivered. It makes total sense from their point of view. Those families who have financial aid are in a similar situation. They may not be able to enroll in a school with the same benefit package and therefore would like to remain at Windrush for as long as possible. Sometime this week, those who are in smaller classes will get some information about how the classes will be structured. Any differences there, may push parents to decide to transfer. Instead of just "phone calling" like Ira suggests, the school needs to inform the whole school community of the enrollment number, starting next Monday. It's not protecting anything to keep that number hidden. If those families who know they are leaving tell the office, then it can be come official. If they do not tell the office then the enrollment number will not be accurate or seen as official. The survey is a good idea.
Ira Sharenow December 11, 2011 at 09:56 PM
My concept is for families to take control of the situation. While it would be nice if the school administration did all sorts of things, multiple people have said they do not trust the school. Hopefully parents trust each other and can get an accurate assessment as to the likely number who is hoping to continue for the next semester. At this late date, why continue to let the school administration decide whether families can help themselves by being proactive. Families could also just get together and meet somewhere face-to-face.
Luke Sides December 11, 2011 at 10:22 PM
@Ira, many are meeting face to face throughout this crisis. However, they are of different groups with different takes on how to deal with the problems. For example, the 8th grade class are willing to do whatever it takes to finish the year, regardless of issues with IK, board, cuts and layoffs, ect. It’s not that they don’t care about those issues, but staying is more important above all else. I can understand and respect their firm stand. Then you have others that want IK gone at all cost or else, the willing risk group. The list goes on. What you proposed as you have mentioned before just won’t work. There isn’t that unity.
Luke Sides December 11, 2011 at 10:23 PM
@still very concerned, tomorrow in the meeting, the enrollment # should be brought up. If they say that they don’t know, they’re lying. If they say, well it’s the admin that keeps count, don’t buy into it. Everybody is keeping count at this point. The number should then be taken as the upper limit and from there on, people will just have to speculate on how many families are unwilling to come forth at this point, which is understandable considering how other parents that left were treated, and how difficult it is to talk about it. I think the money needed to reach the goal is more crucial and should be addressed tomorrow night. I’m wondering how this crisis has affected people’s desire to honor their pledges. It isn’t exactly how they thought it was going to be played out. They weren’t well informed of everything. How much of the 500K still needed for Dec 31 have they gotten.
Ira Sharenow December 11, 2011 at 11:54 PM
Luke, thanks for the feedback. I was not suggesting that parents come up with a unified strategy; I was simply suggesting that they work cooperatively in order to at least get a student count and hopefully also get a financial account. If they fail to do so, parents will then have to continue to depend on school administration even as they say they do not trust the administration. But who are the new board members?
Luke Sides December 12, 2011 at 12:40 AM
@Ira, there are 8 parents and 2 teachers added to the board, now a total 16 board members. I believe the attempt at enrollment count you've been hearing here are based on efforts by parents at surveying. As for financial accounting, hopefully the new board members can get their hands on it and share with everyone. I just hope honesty and transparency in their number one priority over all else, even if it doesn't sound positive. It's those silly sugar-coated messages of the board in the past that have everyone's eyes rolling. @former fan, don't blame you a bit. In whose hands will the money end up? WFB? Poorly run, overstaffed, overpaid administrators? IK settlement? Has the school been pushing the pledges?
Ira Sharenow December 12, 2011 at 02:11 AM
Luke, Thanks. I assume that with so many parents and a couple of teachers on the board, the relevant information will be provided to everyone else in a timely manner. Later on, I also hope the new board carefully checks the financial statements. WR families deserve to know exactly why the school was spending more money as less money was coming in.
Luke Sides December 13, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Anyone made it to last night's meeting and know what's going on this week? It'll be a sad goodbye for some families and a long time teacher after many years of at the school.
wrparent December 13, 2011 at 07:58 PM
According to the Settlement Agreement section D(h)(1) on page 8, the reporting requirement to Wells Fargo for December 31st is to have received $980,000 in gross revenues since the bankruptcy petition date which was September 30, 2011. The months after Sept are marked as "budget" which I assume means that they are estimated numbers, not actuals like Sept. The total income in October shows $436,339. However, that number includes $194,743 in contributions which must be a monthly installment of pledges. As far as I know, Windrush never actually collected pledges since they were waiting for the settlement. The real amount received in October was probably more like $242,000. If anyone has more current number, please weigh in. November's revenue without the pledges would be $293k. December would be $165k. Here's how it breaks down: Dec 31st Gross Revenue Reporting Requirement: $980,000 Expected Revenue in Oct: $242,000 Expected Revenue in Nov: $293,000 Expected Revenue in Dec: $165,000 -------------------------------------------- Total expected revenue received from petition date to end of December: $700,000 Shortfall from December 31st reporting goal if no pledges collected: ($280,000) Additional Outstanding Debt (according to Lucy at 12/5 meeting): ($201,000) -------------------------------------------- Total Shortfall if outstanding debt not received and no pledges collected: $481,000
Luke Sides December 13, 2011 at 08:38 PM
That's how I understand it and also based on what the board said before: " The school is moving in this direction, and over $500,000 needs to come in now for the owed tuition from Oct., Nov., and Dec. " But how much of that has been received? Is that $980K goal chart outside the school correct? Did someone forget to move that little stuff dragon higher up on that $ scale or is it really that bad?
caring parent December 14, 2011 at 12:05 AM
30K is due in Dec for grand total of 281K in legal fees. If you break down what it cost to pay the bare essentials of teaching, it isn’t too bad. Only if......
Still Very Concerned December 14, 2011 at 06:57 AM
"Windrush Community Last night, the Board hosted a community gathering with hot cider and coffee in the library. We met with the community in a more social atmosphere to introduce the new Board members. We gave an informal presentation to the parents and faculty assembled about where we stand currently in terms of the Settlement benchmarks, what we are doing as a Board and what everyone can do to help. Here is where we stand as of today (regarding our Settlement Benchmarks): Official enrollment: 119 students (benchmark: 105) Total cash receipts since Oct 1: $580,582 (benchmark: $980,000) Tuition insurance company has agreed to process the Windrush claim for $246,437 in unpaid tuition. School forecasts receipt of an additional $154,405 in tuition from current families by Dec 30th. The projected total is $981,424 (not even counting the pledge payments or late tuition that will come in!) Other related news: Ilana Kaufman begins her new role today solely focused on bondholder reporting and will work off site. Board has identified three critical Board committees to strengthen and made preliminary appointments to each: Finance Committee, Development Committee and Communications Committee Board set a regular weekly meeting schedule, every Tuesday night.
Still Very Concerned December 14, 2011 at 06:59 AM
"What we are doing as a Board? Daily communications to keep community updated Tuition and pledge collection outreach Administration & Board leadership succession (Board will make decisions about school administration structure and Board leadership positions) Review budget (Board Finance Committee will review the details of the current Windrush budget including income and expense forecasts and actuals to support our settlement benchmarks) What we need everyone to do: Get paid to date on your tuition now Pay your pledge now, accelerate 2012 payments if possible – we can hold for deposit until Dec 30th Keep your child at Windrush Be a catalyst for positive change and spread the word to others Volunteer where you can – we need your help! What looks different at Windrush? In the circle drive, see the student-painted Dragon Pride thermometer Board members host coffee and thanks at drop off each morning this week from 7:30 to 8:30 AM Get your free “Dragon Pride” wristbands at the Windrush front office"
Robert December 14, 2011 at 07:05 AM
What kind of stuff have you been smoking? In what hole has your head been stuck for the last four months? Get real!
Still Very Concerned December 14, 2011 at 07:06 AM
We were asked to pass this announcement on to others: "Calling all Windrush Hobbits! All Hobbit alums, parents, family and friends are invited to stop by the Hobbit room from 2:30-6:00 p.m. on Friday, December 16. It would be great to see any of you who are in town. If you're not a Hobbit alum and want to stop by, that would be wonderful."
dennis potter December 14, 2011 at 01:29 PM
after living in the Bay Area and teaching in private schools for over 30 years, it revolts me that PC language has become one of subterfuge and euphemism, if not actual lies. The beliefs that used to form the core of what I now disparagingly call pc are too important to turn into coverups and positivity, yes? i agree with you Luke, deeply. Get Real, WR. many teachers saw this coming when we sadly left WR in 2008. I hope its not too little, too late.
dennis potter December 14, 2011 at 01:48 PM
former teacher 2; right on. exactly. "but so many of us are still totally perplexed why smart, dedicated people @#$% up so massively." why? one word. Arrogance.
dennis potter December 14, 2011 at 02:14 PM
at last someone noticed? im gratified. im at least on this list even if only at WR for one year part time. the other dates u need to include and contemplate are the arrival dates of all these teachers, you will see a stunning trend. try it. I wish someone had asked us 2008 departees; why?
dennis potter December 14, 2011 at 02:21 PM
curious to see where they all go and how soon, yes? my bet is in running new schools elsewhere. private schools love to support the ... graduates of other private schools.
dennis potter December 14, 2011 at 02:25 PM
on the other hand I know at least six good teachers blackballed by their ex school who had to wait years to get another teaching job. including but not only WR.
Curious December 14, 2011 at 10:14 PM
Who is organizing this Hobbits reunion, and what is expected? I so much want to believe that this reunion will be friendly, warm and welcoming. Our Hobbit year was our best year at WR. But we've been treated with such contempt by families who stayed after we left. The woman who called to ask us to make a pledge in October even called us rats for leaving the ship early while others stayed to work (not an effective fundraising approach). Well, we did try to make things better while we were there. And we still love families and teachers from our days there. But this is the first time anyone has reached out, albeit indirectly, in a friendly manner. Can we trust it?
Still Very Concerned December 15, 2011 at 01:06 AM
Yes, you can trust it. That invite was from the Hobbit teacher. Your experience sounds awful. The plan as far as I know, is a casual gathering to say Goodbye to the teacher and share great Hobbit memories. The idea is to stop in for a little bit or longer, as it fits with your evening. Bring photos and a munchie, if you'd like---or don't bring anything--just come. We are planning to go and hope you'll feel okay about coming. I think it's like an open house type of event.
wrparent December 16, 2011 at 01:30 AM
I called the insurance company about the tuition reimbursement status. They have not paid anything to WR yet and are "still waiting on a decision from the underwriter." He says the he does expect to pay out before the end of the year though....says to call back in a couple of weeks.
Luke Sides December 17, 2011 at 12:36 AM
@wrparent, thanks for checking. to be honest, I had to read up on what underwriter do and learned a few things. am curious what decision they are waiting for. date to pay, how much to pay, I suppose. I thought it's been decided by the sound of things earlier. thanks for reporting. Let us know what else you hear from them.
Anon December 25, 2012 at 09:37 PM
I am reading Patch's message boards surrounding WR because we left a different private school for reasons I imagine are the same. I learned that I cannot be a whistle blower in the early stages of a school falling apart. Often, schools ride on a reputation of decades of success. Who are you, the whistle blower, to go against a strong track record? Hopefully, the school I pulled my children out of will not go bankrupt like WR.


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