The following letter was recently sent out to Boulder Jewish Day School parents. We thought it was important to keep the entire Boulder Jewish community aware of the changes being implemented, since it is, and always has been, our community’s school. Please do feel free to address any questions you might have to Stephen Huh, or to come visit the school or attend a board meeting as a guest. We want you involved, and very much want to see you at our Annual Event on May 2nd. We will be celebrating our 15 year anniversary; bidding farewell to Shoshi Bilavsky who has done so much for BJDS and the Boulder Jewish community; and honoring Jeffrey Linsky for his ongoing commitment to BJDS. It is also a great opportunity to meet Daniel Bennett, our new interim Head of School.
Since we met in March, The Board of the Boulder Jewish Day School has been hard at work. During the last parent meetings, President of the Board, Brian Seigal, spoke about 2 areas:
- Fiscal Stability
- Transition Opportunities
The purpose of this note is to provide you with an update on these areas and to give you information on the changes that have since occurred.
In the parent meetings a little over a month ago, it was communicated that the school needed to raise $80K to finish this year without borrowing from next year. We have done very well in this area over recent weeks, having raised $40K. Brian is hopeful that the school will be able to raise the rest after the annual fundraiser event on May 2nd. Please try to attend this event to show your support for the school to the extended school community.
Impacts to School Operations:
During the parent meetings, it was clear that beyond not wanting to close the school, no one wanted to have a drop in services. By carefully scrubbing the budget, the Board was able to come up with some solutions to keep all of our teachers. We have offered contracts to all of the teachers and they have all agreed to stay. They have graciously accepted to forgo pay increases for yet another year to help save money.
One of the impacts of these changes is to have two elementary classes: Kindergarten through 2nd grade and 3rd grade through 5th grade. The Board believes the impacts to be minimal to students because the class composition is such that there is at most only one 2nd grader and only one 3rd grader. By retaining all three teachers and having a low teacher to student ratio, we have no doubt that we will continue to be able to rank BJDS in the top 95% of private schools across the country. It also allows us to reorganize teacher resources to offer free after care until 5:45 PM each day. This benefit will be filled by a teacher who can also help students with homework. There should be no change to administrative assistant hours, but we will continue to need parental participation to fill this gap – just as we do right now. By keeping our current budget costs down, the Board believes that the school is in a position to maintain current standards for this year, with hopes of growing our appeal to attract students for the coming year.
Finally, the Board has addressed the lack of a Head of School for next year in a way that will allow us to maintain our budget. We are very optimistic about our plans, which are explained below.
During the parent meetings, the other main concern was Shoshi’s departure and the lack of a Head of School for next year. The Board has acted quickly to find an interim Head of School, and have done so in a manner that also fits within the tight budgetary requirements. In our Board meetings, we agreed that finding the right person was the most important factor.
Several of you remember what happened a few years back with CU. In a nut shell, the schools leadership was a mess; Betsy Hoffman, the President, was in trouble; Ward Churchill was holding court; and Gary Barnett, the football coach, was involved in a scandal. Something needed to change. Betsy and Gary left and the Regents appointed an interim President. They chose Hank Brown, a prior senator and president of CSU. Hank Brown’s job was to take control, clean house, raise capital, restore the public image, and hire a replacement.
Following our meeting, President Brian Seigal began to ask the question, “Could we hire a Hank Brown type of person given our limited budget?” He started asking around to find out who are the Elder Statesmen Jewish Educators in the Boulder/ Denver community and spoke with many people. One name kept coming up in conversations: Daniel Bennett. Many of you already know Daniel. He has served the Colorado community since 1979. He was the CEO of Coalition for Advancement in Jewish Education in Denver for the past 12 years. Prior to that he created and grew the Jewish Studies Department at Herzl Day School in Denver. Daniel is nationally renowned and thoroughly respected in the Denver Jewish community. Needless to say, it was serendipitous that Daniel was available to serve in this interim function. Furthermore, he is energized to do so.
Daniel has agreed to serve as the interim executive Head of School. He will begin in May and have a 14 month professional contract. He will be at the school one day a week and meet by appointment with parents and community members. Like Hank Brown, he will be the school’s “interim CEO” and will follow Hank’s model of raising funds, restoring the public image, working with the Board, and guiding the search for a replacement.
In order to make this work in this budget year, Shoshi has generously agreed to end her contract at the end of June. This will allow us to bring Daniel in now and maintain our commitment to fiscal discipline. Daniel will be at the fundraiser and at our next Annual meeting.
The current Board President, Brian Seigal, has resigned to take a new position in St Louis. He will remain on the Board as a Past President with greatly reduced duties. Stephen Huh will fill in as the new Board President, effective immediately. Brian has tirelessly worked to benefit the Boulder Jewish Day School over the past two years. The Board wishes him the best of luck in his new position.
Please keep the upcoming events in mind: the Annual Event honoring Shoshi Bilavsky and Jeffrey Linsky on 5/2; the Board meeting on 5/11; and the Annual Meeting on 5/23, where we will elect Board members and discuss plans for next year. Daniel Bennett will be in attendance at all these events, and looks forward to meeting you. If you have immediate questions or concerns, please call Stephen Huh at 303-845-3455.
Boulder Jewish Day School Board