Debt shuts Anglican school – unless ‘angel investor’ can help

The Herbert Baker architecture of the Bishop Bavin School. Image:
An Anglican co-ed day and boarding school, catering for children from creche to matric in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, has shut down with immediate effect, due to crippling debt.

This was announced by the Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, the Rt Revd Dr Steve Moreo.

In a letter to parents, pupils, teachers and all other staff at the school, Moreo said the decision to terminate the school’s operations had not been taken lightly by either himself, the Trustees of the Diocese, or the board of the school. But “in the final analysis the Diocese had no other option”, as the school faced ever-mounting debt without matching income.

Three attempts to enter into arrangements with other educational institutions during the past year had come to nothing as the terms and conditions had been prejudicial to the church, he said.

The advent of the coronavirus and the lockdown in SA further complicated negotiations with interested parties to rescue the school.

The current combined deficit of the school is R31.5m. The Diocese itself is owed about R15m by the school.

In his letter, Bishop Moreo says unless the school receives a capital injection of about R25m “from an angel investor who will require no return, there appears to be no way forward to save the school”.

“Sadly, Bishop Bavin School will therefore not be in a position to open its doors for the rest of the year.”

Plans are already in progress to accommodate pupils for the rest of the academic year, including matric pupils who are preparing for their final exams.

“Contact has been made with other diocesan schools asking them to favourably consider taking on Bishop Bavin learners in the middle of the year.

“Meetings with staff are taking place to discuss the future, and a meeting with creditors to discuss options and the way forward is planned,” said the church.

Moreo said: “We are saddened by this failure to be able to continue to provide the quality schooling at Bishop Bavin for which our Diocesan schools in Johannesburg are famous.”

Established in 1991, the school was named for a former Bishop of Johannesburg, the Rt Revd Timothy Bavin. It occupied premises previously run as the St George’s Home for Boys, which was established in 1915.

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