Carden West School, a small private school at 4576 Willow Road in the Hacienda Business Park, is in serious financial trouble, court records show.
The private, nonprofit toddler-to-middle school has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, with debts of nearly $1.8 million and assets of just $6,000, only half of that in cash, with the rest in hard assets like schools desks and chairs. Carden West also owes more than $2,600 in federal taxes.
The bankruptcy filing says the school has no money in its payroll checking account.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy involves the financial reorganization of a business and provides protection to debtors, in this case, the school.
The process of Chapter 11 begins with the creation of a repayment and reorganization plan, which could also allow Carden West to cancel contracts. In this case, that could mean the school's contracts with parents, allowing it to raise tuition midyear. Creditors may propose their own repayment plan if unhappy with the reorganization/repayment plan offered by the debtor.
Parents said they've been told the school will stay open until June and that no tuition increase is planned before then; they could not say whether the school would remain open after that, and Carden West Principal Ann Kennedy has not returned telephone calls or emails.
The school lists as its only assets, other than cash at hand, as a collection of desks, tables, chairs, computers, musical instruments and choral risers.
The filing was made November 3. No hearing date has been set.
Carden West now has its third principal in four years. Kennedy took the helm without ceremony, replacing Mark E. Neal, who became principal in August 2010, following Craig Blackburn. Neal left after less than a year, taking a job in July 2011 at Newark Junior High School.
The Pleasanton Weekly will be updating this story as more details become available. We would welcome comments from any current or former Carden West parents or teachers.