Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Letter from the Board and our Head of School

Dear KSA parents,

We would like to communicate with you, our parents, directly, openly and honestly about important developments at KSA.

KSA is Academically Strong
We want to frame our comments with the fact that KSA is thriving educationally. Under the guidance of our outstanding faculty, our students are achieving magnificently and we maintain our reputation in the community as a school that serves a wide range of learners in innovative and engaging ways. As a result of our strong academics, we look forward in the coming months to sharing some exciting and significant initiatives we are undertaking as a school in the areas of educational technology, science, project-based learning and Judaic Studies.  These initiatives are products of our extremely creative, thoughtful and forward thinking faculty. 

We are Still Recovering from the Economic Downturn
Within the context of this warm and caring community, the school is facing financial challenges.  Much of this was explained in communications from the Board of Trustees, in parlor meetings, and on the school blog.  Since the turn of the economy in 2008, our school has managed to weather the downturn and support and retain all families who wanted to be a part of our school community, regardless of their ability to pay the tuition.  We did this with the hope that the economy would turn around and that the families who lost the ability to pay the full tuition would soon be able to do so again.  Unfortunately, although the economy is beginning to show signs of recovery, we as a school have not yet fully recovered and can no longer provide the kind of financial aid that was given in the past and still be fiscally responsible.  Because of this, the Board of Trustees instructed school leadership to create a sustainable budget moving forward to strengthen the foundation of the school and limit its vulnerability going forward. 

Each and Every Family is Significant to our Community
We hope every family in the community recognizes how valuable we feel each and every one is to the fabric of our school.  Russ Lavoie, our Director of Finance and Operations and Sandy Spector, our Business Manager, are meeting one on one with families to make every attempt to keep each family in the school.  The Board and the school leadership are working together to actively seek additional scholarship support from inside and outside the community; we have some promising leads. We realize that despite these efforts some families’ needs might not be met and they will feel the need to make the choice to leave.  This concerns us greatly and is a situation we bear with a heavy heart.

Ensuring Long-Term Sustainability
These circumstances will likely result in a lower overall school enrollment and therefore require a concomitant right-sizing of our faculty and staff.  Out of respect for our current faculty and staff, we have already been talking about staffing changes. We want to give as much notice as possible to those affected so that each can make the best decisions for him/herself and his/her family.  We are deeply saddened to see any of our faculty leave us and we well understand that it is upsetting for many in the community.  We recognize that in order for our school to emerge from this economic downturn stronger we must be fiscally responsible and sadly this is one of the areas where change will have to occur in order to provide for future sustainability. 

Honoring our Faculty and Staff
Later in the year, at the appropriate time, we will honor and more publicly express our deep appreciation to those who have given so much of themselves to our children.  We will always be grateful for their contributions to the life of our school.

Mobilizing Regional Support
With all of the challenges we are facing, we want to reassure the community that our school leadership and Board are working tirelessly to secure the future of the school.  Through our efforts, we have been able to open doors to supporters of Jewish education in the Greater Boston community.  Our unique role in the rich landscape of Jewish day schools in the region is highly valued by these community leaders.  We have made new inroads with these donors and are receiving significant interest and support. We are confident of the community’s commitment to our continued growth and success.

Looking Ahead
At KSA, our strength is our Kehillah, our community.  Although change is hard, we know that together we will secure our future as a premier Jewish day school in the greater Boston and greater Providence areas. Together we will continue on the path with an engaging and vibrant Jewish and secular education in a warm, nurturing environment.  Please know and remember that our core, our essence, and our mission are not changing. 

Call to Action
Finalizing our student enrollment for the coming year is critical for our planning efforts.  Our staffing is driven by confirmed matriculation (actual signed tuition agreements and financial aid awards). So what we are asking you to do is the following:
•             Complete and submit all necessary forms for enrollment now
•             If appropriate, schedule an appointment with Russ Lavoie to engage in the financial aid process
•             Join us at Chaijinks as we celebrate our community
•             Engage with us as we recommit to a culture of philanthropy

We look forward to a bright future together and as always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to be in touch with us, as we would love to speak with you.

Kol tuv,

Marc Medwed                                                            Michael Agus
Head of School                                                          President, Board of Trustees

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