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2011-03-11 digital edition
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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


 

March 11, 2011  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Sale of bankrupt PCJDS, settlement of claims closer

By ROBERT GREEN and JIM DAWKINS Jewish Press

With the sale of the former Pinellas County Jewish Day School possibly imminent, the Official Committee for Unsecured Creditors has filed a fast track application with the court for legal counsel to represent them in any settlement of the case.

The Committee for Unsecured Creditors, previously appointed by the Office of the United States Trustee, which supervises settlement of bankruptcy cases, consists of committee members Fran Sosslau, Gregory Long, Cheryl Kay, and Janice LeVine, all former PCJDS teachers, and Sol Fleischman Jr.

The application was made March 3 when the bankruptcy court held a special hearing to clear the title to the property in a move to facilitate the sale of the school to a company based in Hollywood, FL. The company wants to buy the school property at 1775 South Highland Ave. for $2.7 million for a non-sectarian

Pinellas Academy of Math and Science public charter school. The Pinellas County School Board gave preliminary approval last year, and is expected to give its final approval for the math and science academy’s application at its next meeting March 15.

That would clear the way for the charter school to buy the former PCJDS.

The school closed at the end of the last school year after 30 years of operation. School officials subsequently filed a bankruptcy petition to protect its assets until the property could be sold.

At a later hearing, the bankruptcy court will make a final judgment to then distribute the day school’s assets.

The school’s filing with the bankruptcy court listed the following creditors: BB&T: $1,985,901; Whitney Bank, $96,492; the IRS, $73,435 in payroll taxes; Pinellas County Tax Collector, $14,368 in real estate taxes.

It also states: “The debtor (PCJDS) owes approximately $456,296 in unsecured claims.

The secured and unsecured claims listed total just over $2.6 million.

Included in the unsecured amount are potential claims by former teachers who may claim payments for wages after the closing of the school. All employees have been terminated at the end of the 2010 school year. The former teachers may assert claims for wage payments through August 2010, but there is no contractual right to any such payments.”

Earlier, 13 of the school’s former teachers and other employees filed suit against the PCJDS claiming they are owed back pay because the school stopped all salaries and benefits June 1.

The school’s filing for bankruptcy forestalled that suit as well as foreclosure suits.

More than 20 former teachers and other employees then filed claims in bankruptcy court.

The school’s attorneys contend there were no contracts. Unlike previous years, the school had the teachers sign Letters of Intent for the 2009-10 school year. Former teachers and employees contend those letters stipulated a year’s salary paid over 12 months, just as previous contracts had.

The Day School’s bankruptcy filing said only three people remained on the PCJDS board: President David Schechter, Treasurer Saul Schechter, David’s father; and Dr. Mark Benjamin, a director.

“It’s in everyone’s interest for the sale to go through,” said attorney Angelina Lim of the law firm of Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns, attorneys for the PCJDS.

Asked if the teachers and staff would be paid, “Hopefully, everyone will get paid,” Saul Schechter said.

Editor’s disclosure note: The Jewish Press is among the PCJDS’ unsecured creditors.


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