Investors in schools say plan is to repay loan from parents

June 04, 1996|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

The sale of two financially strapped Columbia schools to an investment group should be final this week, the prospective owners say -- and repaying a loan from parents will be one of the first orders of business.

The investment group, led by a Woodbridge, Va., couple, is purchasing the Columbia Academy Elementary School and the Columbia Academy Pre-School -- founded by Raymond and Gayle Chapman in 1994 and 1991, respectively -- for $210,000, the purchasers said.

The Chapmans, who have managed the schools since opening them, were not available for comment yesterday.

Both schools filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March. According to the court filings, the elementary school in Columbia's Kings Contrivance village owes more than $230,000 to creditors and the preschool on Route 108 owes more than $232,000.

A $130,000 loan from members of the Columbia Academy Parents Association to keep the elementary school afloat last summer is the school's largest debt, said Christopher C. Tsien, the Chapmans' attorney.

Money from the purchase of the schools would be used to pay creditors, said Charles Leopold, who with his wife, Jackie, is the Columbia schools' prospective owner. The Leopolds founded and operate Minnieland Private Day School Inc. in Woodbridge. They operate 25 private elementary schools and day care centers in Virginia. The Leopolds are purchasing the schools along with four parents of students at the elementary school.

Repayment of the parents' loan would be handled separately from the bankruptcy proceedings, Leopold said.

According to a proposal under negotiation, the parents who contributed to the loan could receive an annual tuition credit in lieu of direct payment, said P. Michael Stishan, a member of the parent group.

According to the sale agreement, Gayle Chapman would serve as a consultant to the school "for several years," Leopold said. Raymond Chapman would not have a role in the school.

The new owners would take over managing the school but maintain the curriculum established by the Chapmans, Leopold said. Immediate changes would include the development of an infant day care program, renovating the preschool and updating the school's computer program, he said.

Pub Date: 6/04/96

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