Broadcast School to Reopen, but Future is Uncertain

The Chicago campus of a national chain of for-profit broadcast communications schools remained closed this morning, while campuses elsewhere reopened after a shut-down two weeks ago.

The CSB School of Broadcasting filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of the month and locked the doors at its 26 campuses. However, an infustion of cash is letting the schools reopen in the short term, says President David Banner.

“It’s a great day for our students to get back into our schools and continue their education and have the opportunity to finish what they started,” Banner says.

But the for-profit company’s future is unclear and it’s not enrolling new students as it looks for a buyer.

And CSB’s facility in a Loop office building was dark Monday morning, with no signs to indicate when it would be open again. Banner says he’s awaiting approval from the Illinois Board of Education before it and a facility in suburban Downers Grove can reopen.

The state board needs assurances that students who don’t want to return to classes can get a full refund, agency spokesman Matt Vanover says. He says he expects the Chicago campus to reopen some time today.

Banner blamed the company’s lender for seizing about $1 million in its operating account without warning, forcing the shutdown and bankruptcy on March 6. CSB was trying to renegotiate the terms of a loan with PNC Financial Services Group and get a lower interest rate, he said.

“The students were really upset that they didn’t have a chance to come back and finish their education,” Banner says.

Fred Solomon, a spokesman in Pittsburgh for  PNC, declined to comment, citing “banking confidentiality laws.”

The 300-hour course CSB offers costs students about $12,000 and can be completed in a few months but varies for each student, Banner says. At the end of the course, students get a certificate of completion.

The roughly 400 students nationwide, including about 50 at the two Chicago-area campuses, were initially left with only an e-mail describing the situation when the schools shut down, and no way to get their money back. It’s unclear exactly how long the schools will remain open.

According to CSB’s Web site, the curriculum focuses heavily on the technical aspects of producing television and radio shows, with an emphasis on hands-on training.

According to a news release sent Friday, all of the school’s campuses would reopen this week, allowing students who were already enrolled to finish the current term.

But for now, the school isn’t taking any new applications, and even students signed up for the next term, which was supposed to start this month, won’t be able to start classes.

“It’s kind of that waiting period while we attempt to find interested purchasers,” Lyn Taylor, the coordinator of the Loop campus, said Friday.

If the company’s bankruptcy trustee can find a buyer to keep the schools running, it would be able to start accepting students again, she says.

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