Update from Dr. Orsini

AlfonsoDear Friends,
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Japanese track picnic at school on Saturday, as well as the Spanish and Chinese grade 1 picnics at two lovely parks on Sunday. If you are planning a class get together I would love to attend and meet more people. This past weekend, some parents asked about progress on the study of the Custom House. Board member Scott Kerman is sending out a separate letter on that today.

However, I want to tell you that at last Monday’s meeting I was touched that the board members collectively contributed a substantial sum of money to minimize costs to the school for the detailed Phase 1 study of the Custom House. And thus they voted with their own pocketbooks and their personal commitment to go to the next level in exploration. In the spring survey comments I read one or two rather caustic comments about our board. Our board is not a group of particularly wealthy people. They are, except for one member, current or past parents. We should all understand very clearly that they volunteer many hours of their time to do what is best for this school. They deserve our good faith and our good will.

If all proceeds well with the phase 1 Custom House study, we will also be calling upon community members to help us study such aspects of the site as security and pick-up/ drop off logistics. At the same time that we carefully study the Custom House as a site, we must also be considering other options in case it is not our best choice. I know we are all anxious to know the direction of the school, but we must bear in mind the old Italian saying “ Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano.” Who goes slowly, goes far and safely.”

I have also read in the spring comments many people’s concerns about the rising cost of schooling, and I heard similar comments this weekend. The board and I are very aware of that, and this is a topic at every independent school in America right now. I hope people understand that this non-profit organization is currently funded almost exclusively by tuition and annual fundraisers. All independent schools and colleges in the US rely upon endowment to help supplement tuition income. It is clear that we need to raise money to keep costs down and help sustain the school, and thus we are in the process of hiring a Development Director who can help us in that regard.

At TIS every dollar every year goes to maintaining program and paying bills, and thanks largely to the keen vigilance of Business Manager Rob Timmons, we spend every dollar with great care. Nevertheless we will need to work very hard in the future to raise faculty salaries to an appropriate level and to provide the educational facilities and resources that are required for a strong academic program. While we have some rough edges to work on, the faculty has performed remarkably well at the core business and core vision first set by our generous founders: educating children in another language and culture to become remarkably proficient by fifth grade. We need to remind ourselves more often how amazing that is and how unique in the American landscape. From that basis, and as we build our understanding and enactment of the PYP, and as we build a stronger financial base to provide better facilities, we are going to go from very good to great. We can only do that collaboratively and with good will. And here is what good will means: we must all keep up with communication – parents should read InTheKnow every week and notes from teachers and room parents – and if you have a question or concern, please get in touch. We assume the best of people and we pitch in as so many excellent people in this community do every day!

Until next week, take good care,