Our Stories

President of the Board Report 2017-2018

June 21, 2018 by Steve Laufer (Community)

It has truly been an incredible year at MILTON. I want to thank all the staff members and parent volunteers who made it possible. I also want to recognize each of the members of the professional leadership team under whose direction all of this magic happens: Melissa Davis, Arielle Derby, Sharon Freundel, Ronit Greenstein, Alexis Herschthal, Miri Ploff, Lisa Schopf, Joshua Suchoff, Sindy Udell, Steve Wernick, and our tireless Head of School, Naomi Reem. It is impossible to overstate how hard you all work, how much you care about this school and its students, and how much gratitude we feel for all that you do.

The Board’s role is to provide an environment in which the professional staff can deliver the incredible MILTON program, starting with ensuring the school’s financial sustainability.

I’m very pleased to share with you that for the second year in a row, we have significantly exceeded our annual fund’s goals. I want to thank Pete Federowicz and Adam Pearlman who co-chaired this year’s successful and innovative Ru’ach campaign.

We also know that as we go forward, the annual campaign won’t be enough to meet the school’s growing needs, which is why I’m happy to announce that our efforts to build an endowment are now well underway. I want to thank John Hasenberg, Miriam Feffer, Ted Schulman, and rest of the Advancement Committee for their role in making it happen. As we’ve come to understand over time, the endowment is what we’ll need to ensure that the school we love today is still there for future generations of MILTON students.

With our annual and endowment campaigns moving along, we’re in a good position to think about our financial future. Like other day schools, we face many financial challenges in the years ahead, including the rising costs of educating our students and the need for more financial aid every year, a need that will continue to grow. I want to thank David Kurtzer and the Finance Committee for helping us chart out this course and to thank Nate Lesser and members of our Tuition Assistance Task Force for helping us think through potentially better ways to handle the particularly important issue of financial aid.

As our name indicates, the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s capital exists and thrives as a part of the broader DC community, and I want to thank Rob Zucker and Helaine Greenfeld for maintaining the strength of our relationships with the community at large and with the elected officials.
I also want to thank Kim Aftergood and Maia Magder for ensuring that the school continues to have a strong lay leadership in the form of a very highly functioning Board of Trustees. In a few minutes, we’ll recognize our outgoing Board members and welcome a strong slate of new Board members who will begin their service tonight. I especially want to thank Edna Friedberg for her work as Secretary and for taking on the responsibility of President-Elect.

More generally, I want to thank all the Board members for tasks large and small: for shepherding the strategic plan, making sure we obtain a clean audit, conducting exit interviews with departing families, for being ambassadors and supporters, for cultivating donors and prospective parents, for their contributions, for their time, and for their wisdom. For being a strategic Board, strengthening the relationships with the professional team, and being our best cheerleaders.
In summary, we have a bright future ahead of us – enrollment is at a record and right where we need it to be in order to sustain the school; we have a successful annual fund; amazing new facilities; an outstanding academic program; and a solid reputation locally and nationally.

We do face challenges including the school’s financial sustainability in the short and long term.

We’ll need to continue our strong fundraising on an annual basis and for the endowment to ensure we have the funds to deliver an excellent program and offer competitive salaries and benefits to recruit and retain the best teachers and staff. And we’ll have to work constantly on recruiting and retention of qualified applicants from all areas of the community to maintain the strength of our pluralistic school.

Together with the help of the people in this room and many others throughout the MILTON community, I’m confident we can do it.