Irs Hits School For Taxes

Posted: February 04, 1990

The Downingtown Industrial & Agricultural School, a small private boarding school that serves troubled teens, owes nearly $25,000 in federal payroll taxes, according to a document filed in Chester County Court.

The IRS has filed a lien against the school, which is a state-licensed academic school for grades nine to 12. The lien assures the government that it can collect the taxes if any property is sold.

According to the lien, the school owes $17,031.73 in taxes for the period ending Dec. 31, 1988, and $7,928.93 for the period ending June 30, 1989.

Withholding tax is federal income tax taken out of employees' paychecks. All the money is supposed to be turned over to the IRS. If it is not, the employer is notifed by the IRS that money is owed and if it remains unpaid, a lien is filed against the employer.

Contacted Thursday, the school's executive director would not comment about possible financial troubles at the school, located on Route 322 in East Brandywine Township, or describe its programs.

"I am not at liberty to discuss anything about our difficulties at this time," said Hersey Gray.

Asked if the school might have to close he said, "No way."

While Chester County education officials appeared to know little about the school, a press officer for the Pennsylvania Department of Education said that the school received more than $1 million in state funding in the 1989-90 budget.

The school falls into an unusual category within the state budget, said Janet Elfring, press officer. It is one of only four private schools in the state listed as non-state-related institutions that receive funding through a direct appropriation in the budget, she said. Other institutions receive state

funds through line-item appropriations, she said, but they are all either state-owned or state-related. All other education funding comes through the education department, she said.

The Downingtown school's current appropriation included $969,000 for maintenance, $81,000 for rentals and $54,000 for special projects, Elfring said.

About a third of the school's 64 students are referred by the federal Department of Human Services, said Douglas Boelhouwer, division chief for nonpublic and private-school services in the state Department of Education. The school has a capacity of 105 to 110 students, he said.

Human services pays a per-day fee for the students it places at the school. The others are sent by parents, who pay a "nominal" tuition, he said.

The school, founded in 1898, began as a vocational school and has retained its name even though its focus is now academics, he said. It offers special help for students, such as a full-time remedial reading program, Boelhouwer said.

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