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Prop. 1 Loss Forces Sale of Private School : Bankruptcy: The parks bond could have saved the Los Feliz campus from closing. Officials will try to find a buyer before foreclosure on July 16.

June 06, 1991|LORI GRANGE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The failure Tuesday of a $298.8-million parks bond measure in Los Angeles' municipal elections will lead to the sale next month of Los Feliz Hills School, whose supporters have struggled to pull the private campus out of bankruptcy, school officials said.

But in a final effort to stave off foreclosure, scheduled to begin July 16, administrators plan to hold a private auction July 15 to try to sell the campus, built on 6.5 acres on a hill on Russell Avenue near ABC Studios, headmaster Chris Geissmann said Wednesday.

The nonprofit school in November, 1989, filed for reorganization under federal bankruptcy laws that allowed it to try to solve its financial woes instead of shutting down.

It owes roughly $2.5 million to its creditors, a debt that administrators and supporters agree was created in the 1970s when the school was closely tied to the Church of Scientology.

The relationship broke up in 1984 because of differences over finances and power, Geissmann has said.

"We're arranging for an auction, which we will conduct ourselves or have our agent conduct, in case we don't get a buyer by some other means," Geissmann said. "Foreclosure means it's entirely out of your control. Creditors take charge and dictate everything."

The school was counting on a $3.3-million slice of the parks bond measure, which would have allowed Los Angeles officials to buy at least part of the campus for a park.

Administrators then would have used the money to pay off the debt and keep the school operating on the remainder of the campus.

The bond measure, called Proposition 1, won approval from about 58% of Tuesday's voters but needed at least 66%--or two-thirds--to pass, a spokeswoman for the city's election division said.

The measure would have provided funds for parks, cultural facilities, open space acquisition, senior citizen centers and recreation areas throughout Los Angeles.

The school officially will close later this month, when preschool through eighth-grade classes end for nearly 100 students.

Geissmann said that, although he and his teachers have been searching for new jobs, some parents are trying to move the preschool to a local church and establish classes at another for students in kindergarten, first and second grade.

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