September 25, 2018

Private school faces fiscal woes

A historic private school in Waterbury is facing financial troubles in the wake of its purchase last year by investors. Two lenders have filed suit in Superior Court in Waterbury against the owners of Chase Collegiate School alleging that they defaulted on their mortgage to the tune of $8.75 million, according to the Waterbury Republican-American.

Chase Collegiate also owes $776,752 in property taxes for its 47-acre campus at 565 Chase Parkway, the newspaper reported. As of its purchase last October, the school is now considered for-profit.

York Education Group bought Chase Collegiate in 2017 after years of budget shortfalls led to a $2 million annual deficit. "Over the past seven years, it became clear to the board that Chase was facing financial issues which would require us to think out of the box if we wished to preserve an independent, non-sectarian, PreK-12 school option in the Greater Waterbury area," Board Chair John Pronovost said in a statement at the time.

York Education Group paid $9.4 million for Chase Collegiate, which was reportedly used to pay off more than $8.9 million in debt, according to the Republican-American. The investors agreed to pay off nearly $10 million in state education bonds and promised $3 million in investments in the school. York has since undergone a series of reorganizations and management changes.

Founded in 1865, Chase Collegiate has operated as the Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies, St. Margaret's School for Girls and St. Margaret's-McTernan, until taking its current name in 2005. Currently the school enrolls about 400 students in pre-K through 12th grade.

Chase Collegiate is not the only private school under financial strain: Nearly half of private schools surveyed nationwide lost enrollment over the last decade, according to the National Association of Independent Schools. In New Haven, Catholic schools St. Aedan's and St. Brendan's merged and reorganized this year to emphasize science and technology in the face of declining enrollment.

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