Frequently Asked Questions for Temple Beth Am Members
It is with great pleasure that we announce that effective September 1, 2017, the Seattle Jewish Community Center's (SJCC) North Seattle Early Childhood School (ECS) will become an affiliate of Temple Beth Am (TBA), under the auspices of a new nonprofit organization to be established by TBA.
How and why was this decision made?
Running an Early Childhood School is aligned with a synagogue’s core purpose of “building Jews” and ensuring Jewish continuity. Young families who enroll their children in the ECS get to know TBA and will naturally look to us when they are ready to engage with a Reform synagogue community.
The TBA Board decided that, in the long run, TBA will be in a better situation overall if we are in control of the use of the K’hilah Center. SJCC’s 10‐year lease of the building was beneficial to us, but, at the same time, their impending lease expiration in 2017 highlighted the risk we face when a tenant changes course for whatever reason.
We also realized that the opportunity to take over a profitable, well‐run early childhood development school does not come along very often. In fact, when we talked with staff at the URJ who work in the area of early childhood, they thought it was a “no‐brainer” to acquire the ECS and is one of the single best things a synagogue can do to ensure its future. The management team – including Jenn Magalnick and Dara McAlister (both of whom are TBA members), and Jennifer Birkner – are committed to staying on. They are well‐respected in the early childhood community and bring a wealth of resources to continue running a top‐notch school.
Does this mean that TBA will focus on little kids and stop doing programming for seniors?
Not at all! When we talk about Jewish continuity, we mean Jews at every age and stage of life. We will continue to be a beit am, a house for all people, of all ages.
What will the financial impact be on TBA?
The school has had great and growing success in recent years and currently has a waiting list. Demographic trends in Seattle indicate that there will be increasing demand for high-quality early childhood schools for the foreseeable future. We also believe that no longer having to depend on a tenant for income from the K’hilah Center puts us in a stronger financial position because it gives us more control over the source of revenue.
Our intent is that the addition of the ECS will not add to the workload of our current staff. We anticipate hiring two new employees to provide administrative support – functions that are currently being provided by the SJCC on Mercer Island, such as registration and accounting. Our clergy and Religious School staff may be asked from time-to-time for input on the Jewish content of the school.
What other options did we consider for use of the K’hilah Center?
Because of the zoning restrictions on use of the property, and because of the fact that the K’hilah Center is connected to the main TBA building, there were very few feasible options – and we considered all of them. Taking over the ECS was the only option that met all three criteria of aligning with our mission, being financially responsible, and honoring the dedication and sacrifice of our members who helped us build the K’hilah Center. Other alternatives would have resulted in the K’hilah Center being reconfigured to meet a new tenant’s structural and design specifications, making it less suitable for our Religious School classes and erasing the building’s identity as part of TBA.
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