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At Burlington College, A Troubled Summer

Burlington College is in financial trouble.

Earlier this summer, the regional accrediting body for colleges put the lakeshore liberal arts college on probation, citing financial problems.

New reports detail just how troubled the college's finances really are.

On Tuesday, VTDigger's Laura Krantz reported that records show administrators allegedly wrongly used restricted scholarship funds for day-to-day operating costs.

The regional accrediting agency in June placed the college on a two-year probation for failing to meet financial standards. Financial woes were “exacerbated” under president [Christine] Plunkett, the New England Association of School and Colleges said in its letter to the school. Meanwhile, recently released audit reports of the college’s finances show that the school “borrowed” $50,000 of the $70,000 Conway scholarship. The 2013 audit, the most recent financial data available for the school, shows the money has not been repaid. The endowment fund now contains $34,000, according to that audit.

And in Wednesday's issue of Seven Days, Alicia Freese detailed the historical roots of the school's problems, and an atmosphere of mistrust and a lack of confidence at the college that the current administration will be able to turn things around.

If Burlington College had met [former president Jane] Sanders' "conservative" projections, it would currently have 280 full-time students. As of last Friday, roughly 180 were enrolled. As a result, Burlington College has failed to maintain the cash reserves of almost $1.5 million that it's supposed to keep as part of its loan agreement with the diocese. Neither has it kept up an account required for the bank loan. The 2013 audit showed $8 in an account that should have roughly $400,000.

College officials presented development plans for its new property, which it recently bought from the Catholic Diocese, to Burlington city councilors earlier this summer. But right now, it's unclear if the college will ever break ground on its new campus.