ICEF Public Schools’ Audit Reveals Path to Financial Recovery

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ICEF Public Schools has aggressively reduced their deficit by more than 80 percent over the past two years, putting the public charter school network on a path to financial stability.

While ICEF has focused on financial stability, it has also maintained its priorities of continually improving student instruction and promoting academic excellence.

ICEF Public Schools today announced its financial turnaround, the result of a two year process to stabilize the public charter school network, via a financial audit performed by Vicenti, Lloyd & Stutzman LLP. ICEF has successfully attained a positive operating net income through the 2011-12 school year, and has aggressively reduced its deficit by more than 80 percent over the past two years. The family of 14 schools across South Los Angeles, known for successfully closing the achievement gap for African-American and Latino students through a K-12 model based on academics, athletics and performing/visual arts, is forecasting a positive ending fund balance by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2013.

ICEF began to experience uncertain financial times in 2008, in the midst of the economic recession and financial crisis, which sharply reduced state funding to schools and delayed payments to schools through a late state budget. This forced ICEF to attempt to obtain short-term high-interest loans and rely upon private donations to remain operational. Insufficient reserves and an overly ambitious expansion plan were also contributing factors to ICEF’s financial situation.

“The progress we’ve made at ICEF has reinvigorated the sense of pride that the entire ICEF family, from our students, parents and staff, has for our schools,” said Parker Hudnut, CEO of ICEF. “We came together as a community to do what was needed to stabilize ourselves financially, while maintaining a high-quality level of education for our students, exemplifying that results can be achieved through diligent efforts.”

Hudnut stepped into the role of CEO of ICEF in June 2011 and immediately began a long-term plan for ICEF’s financial recovery. Hudnut spearheaded organizational changes which included the adoption of strong and transparent internal oversight and control, and a move from centrally managed finances to school-based budgeting, where each principal is empowered to manage school resources to best meet student needs.

“One of the most rewarding times of my life was having the opportunity to stabilize and save ICEF Public Schools,” said Richard Riordan, Former Mayor of Los Angeles and Chairman of ICEF’s Board. “I am proud to say that with the collective support of our parents, students, staff and supporters, ICEF is standing strong today and on the way to long-term sustainability.”

By demonstrating responsible fiscal practices, ICEF will soon be in the position to obtain cost-effective lines of credit and financing for facilities that will allow them to restructure their facilities to provide permanent homes for their schools. ICEF will continue to focus on academic excellence through improving student instruction and bringing technology into the classroom. ICEF also hired a Chief Operations Officer, Greg Brendel, in September 2012. Brendel’s role will include placing and keeping ICEF on a path to stable facilities management, given his previous career in developing dozens of charter school sites.

“I have seen the strong progress ICEF has made,” said Corey Dantzler, President and CEO of the Challengers Boys & Girls Club. “The positive impact that the ICEF family of schools has had in South Los Angeles is tremendous. ICEF students are prepared to attend and succeed in college, giving them more opportunities in life, and our community is proud to share in their accomplishments.”

While ICEF has focused on financial stability, it has also maintained its priorities of continually improving student instruction and promoting academic excellence. ICEF’s class of 2012 achieved a graduation rate of 98 percent, with over 88 percent of those graduates now attending some of the top colleges and universities in the country, at rates double that of their African-American and Latino counterparts in the Los Angeles Unified School District. ICEF has also preserved its strong extracurricular offerings in athletics and visual/performing arts, through the belief that these activities contribute to the development of interesting and talented members of society, who are committed to reinvesting in their community.

About ICEF Public Schools
ICEF Public Schools was founded in 1994 with the goal to transform the South Los Angeles community by providing high-quality educational opportunities for its students and preparing students to attend and compete academically at the top 100 colleges and universities in the nation. ICEF has achieved great success in closing the achievement gap for African-American and Latino students through an established K-12 model based on academic rigor, high expectations for its students, parental involvement and rich extracurricular offerings in athletics and performing/visual arts. ICEF currently serves over 4,200 students, 81 percent of whom are African-American, 16 percent are Latino and 82 percent are low-income, across 14 elementary, middle and high schools across South Los Angeles. To learn more about ICEF Public Schools, visit http://www.icefps.org.

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Ida Linden
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