Exciting News About Seattle ECS
Stroum Jewish Community Center and Temple Beth Am go FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH
TEMPLE BETH AM TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF SEATTLE SJCC EARLY CHILDHOOD SCHOOL in 2017
The Stroum Jewish Community Center (SJCC) and Temple Beth Am (TBA) are pleased to announce that, effective September 1, 2017, the SJCC north Seattle Early Childhood School (ECS) will become a program of Temple Beth Am, under the auspices of a new nonprofit organization to be established by TBA.
The transition of the north Seattle School from the SJCC to TBA was voted on and approved by both organizations’ board of directors.
While the name and ownership will change, the location, philosophy, curriculum, management and faculty will remain the same. The north Seattle School has had great and growing success in recent years under the current leadership team, with Director Jennifer Magalnick at the helm since 2013.
Kim Waldbaum, SJCC Board President commented, “Transitioning the school to TBA will give SJCC the ability to focus time and resources on broader community engagement, one of four priorities in our 2015-2017 strategic plan. With this re-direction of resources SJCC will be able to serve more people in north Seattle and across the Puget Sound region.”
The SJCC will continue to run its Early Childhood School at the Mercer Island facility where families can also leverage the built-in amenities and services available at that location. “SJCC’s commitment to early learning is unwavering,” said Waldbaum.
“The decision is the result of many months of thoughtful, collaborative information gathering, analysis, and community-minded thinking,” SJCC CEO Judy Neuman noted. “This is a win, win, win in that ECS Seattle families will continue in their school, TBA adds an important entry point to Jewish life which is in tandem with their mission and values, and SJCC will have the ability to engage many more people across multiple communities.”
Based on the most recent Greater Seattle Jewish Community Study, the Jewish population in Seattle has increased well over 50 percent in the last fifteen years, with a large concentration of young Jewish families in north Seattle. “TBA’s 60-year history gives us deep roots in the north Seattle community, so we are well-positioned to support and nurture the school and the families it serves,” said Gaby Charlton, TBA Board Secretary and north Seattle ECS parent. “And since the north Seattle ECS has been housed at TBA since 2007, in many ways it already feels like part of the TBA family.”
North Seattle School director Jenn Magalnick, also a member of TBA, couldn’t agree more. “Families spend three to five years as a part of our vibrant, tight-knit school community. The north end school being a part of TBA will make extending that community connection past the preschool years easier than ever.”
“One of our core values at TBA is lifelong learning, from the very young to the very old,” said TBA Senior Rabbi Ruth Zlotnick. “We are thrilled at the opportunity to incorporate such a high caliber program that was built on a strong foundation combining Jewish values and a Reggio Emilia-inspired child-centered approach to growth and development.”
“We couldn’t be prouder to hand over a successful turnkey school that is a vital entry point to Jewish life for so many north end families to such a trusted and valued partner,” said Neuman. “The relationship between the SJCC and TBA is the strongest it’s ever been, and we look forward to creating new ways of deepening that partnership in the future.”
TBA and the SJCC have already begun planning for that future, and look forward to serving Seattle’s young families for many years to come.
For more information, please see FAQs below or contact SJCC COO Renée Cohen Goodwin at 206-388-0829 or SJCC CEO Judy Neuman at 206-232-7116.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Seattle ECS Transition
1. What triggered this decision?
This decision was informed by our multi-year strategic plan and recent community study and will allow the SJCC to focus resources on more effectively reaching more community members with our services while maintaining the quality of our programs. In the past two years, our partnership with TBA has been the strongest it’s ever been; we expect that this transition will strengthen it further, allowing us to engage not only those families enrolled in the Seattle school, but those who aren’t, in addition to families and individuals in other geographic areas.
2. Who was involved in making this decision?
The SJCC Board of Directors and a strategic planning task force reviewed all of the considerations with input from experts from ECS, the SJCC leadership and Temple Beth Am leadership.
3. How did the SJCC Board make this decision?
Knowing that the lease with TBA was coming to an end in June of 2017, the SJCC Board formed a task force which analyzed whether the SJCC should continue to operate the school in the North End. The task force analyzed a number of different factors and made a recommendation to the Board that the SJCC no longer operate any programs in which a long-term lease was involved. At a board retreat in fall 2015, this recommendation was thoughtfully discussed and ultimately it was decided that the best decision for both the school community and the SJCC was to turn the north Seattle school over to TBA.
4. How will the J meet the needs of north Seattle going forward?
The J is already investing in new programs to advance our work in achieving our strategic plan objective to increase outreach to more geographic areas in Puget Sound, including North Seattle.
5. Is the J going to discontinue the ECS program on Mercer Island?
Definitely not. As one of many avenues for engagement, the ECS program on Mercer Island is an important way for Jewish families to connect to the J. Just as handing off the Seattle campus to a great partner will allow us to do more and broader community engagement work throughout the community, it will also allow us to continue to strengthen the ECS program on Mercer Island.
6. Why do you think this is a good decision for the J?
We are a different organization today than we were nearly thirty years ago when we started the north end school. We want to truly fulfill our mission/vision and welcome and reach out to more and more people in the Jewish community. This decision also enables the J to continue to expand on the community engagement piece of our strategic plan, working with key partners like Temple Beth Am to reach people in their own neighborhoods.
FAQs for Seattle ECS families
1. What will stay the same and what will change?
While the name and ownership will change, the location, philosophy, curriculum, leadership, and faculty will all remain the same. Jenn Magalnick, along with Dara McAllister and Jennifer Birkner, will continue to lead the school through the transition and beyond, keeping the day-to-day experience of children, families, and faculty as consistent as possible. Instead of being a program of the SJCC, the north Seattle school will be a program of Temple Beth Am (TBA), under the auspices of a new nonprofit organization that TBA will establish. The new nonprofit’s board of directors will include parents in the school and some of TBA’s current board members.
2. Will school families be required to become members of TBA?
3. Will TBA families be given priority enrollment?
Highest priority will remain with current ECS children, their siblings, and siblings of children who have graduated the program.
4. Will SJCC make membership available to ECS Seattle families and at what rate?
Yes, for all ECS Seattle families enrolled in the school as of August 31, 2017, the SJCC will provide a free membership for the first two years of Temple Beth Am’s ownership of the school. After that, ECS Seattle families may join the SJCC at regular membership rates.
5. Will tuition be reduced under TBA’s ownership?
No. The tuition rate is and will continue to be benchmarked annually and reflects the market rate for an exceptional early childhood program.
6. Will we still have the same dietary restrictions regarding cooking, baking, and food that comes into the school?
7. Will this transition allow for more children to be enrolled in the school?
If TBA decides to allocate additional classroom space to the school, they could in theory increase enrollment.