BRONXVILLE, NY — April 5, 2022 — Every so often villagers are called upon to aid one of our venerable institutions. Many of you may recall approximately a decade ago when our historic Women’s Club met with some hard times and residents rose up to help, resulting in a now thriving institution filled with intellectual activity serving as a hub for individuals of all ages to gather for culture and festivities.
And just recently so many of you answered the call to save our iconic movie theater that had operated since 1929 but came perilously close to closing due to the effects of the Covid pandemic.
One of our other signature Village institutions, the Bronxville Adult School, was also impacted adversely by COVID and I am asking you to again step up to preserve a storied institution of learning.
By way of background, our school has an almost 80 year history. In November 1942, as Bronxville citizens were preparing themselves for whatever the war and post war years may offer, the Bronxville School and the PTA started adult education classes to fill a vacuum of uncertainty and unknowingly sparked the birth of the Bronxville Adult School (BAS). The school opened with 180 students with aircraft drafting and blueprint reading attracting 16 students, 13 of whom were women preparing for defense jobs. The “fix it yourself” class was populated with 16 women while 29 other women were in an evening typing class with 14 specializing in stenography. An even balance of 36 men and women met weekly to study Spanish recognizing early the increasing collaboration between the United States and Spanish speaking countries. Many free classes were also offered that centered around leisure activities for children designed to alleviate wartime tension and these classes drew standing room only crowds. Dressmaking, public speaking, music appreciation and woodworking help to round out the inaugural curriculum, thus beginning an 80 year commitment to education. Summed up perfectly by G. Gordon Studebaker, former Chairman of the BAS, who said in 1957, “It is my sincere conviction that any kind of education or recreational activity which helps people young and old grow in their understanding and abilities or improve their well-being is worthy of all our efforts.” The BAS needs our efforts now.
BAS has been self-sustaining via tuition funding with a limited amount of donations and sponsorships primarily coming from dedicated board members. As recently as 2020, the school was in relatively good financial shape with a comfortable reserve to get them through any unforeseen difficulties. However, the past two years have completely changed the dynamic with so many organizations like BAS just trying to stay afloat. Most of the programming was virtual, requiring the tuition to be much lower and frankly many participants dropped off due to the lack of in person learning. The school was fortunate enough in 2020 to receive two PPP loans and a county grant and for the first time in their history launched a major fundraising campaign, which sadly had disappointing results. These financial infusions help them get through the first year of the pandemic but such revenue avenues were not available in year two and honestly there does not seem to be community awareness that the adult school needs donor support to continue to operate. Currently, the school is relying on their reserves to keep going which is clearly not a sustainable metric.
In person classes at the Bronxville Adult School were finally able to resume in October. However, the two pandemic surges along with the state mask mandate greatly limited the number of classes offered and the school has yet to been able to resume daytime offsite classes in and around Bronxville. The one saving grace has been the new interest in Pickle ball.
Pandemic levels of operation have completely changed the paradigm. Some of the venues are no longer available; many long-term instructors have understandably moved on and their dedicated following has disbursed. To some degree, the school is starting anew in 2022 with new instructors and the hope of new students. Despite increased operating costs, the school is trying to pass on as little as possible to the students because the BAS mission has always been to provide affordably priced lifelong learning to as many students as possible. The school has always tried to keep the fees lower than any other adult program in Westchester to remain faithful to the extraordinary inaugural mission to engage learners from all of our neighboring communities. The School is located in Bronxville but its reach crosses many borders.
We are asking for your assistance and engage your voices in and around Bronxville to develop and participate in a community steering committee that will consider the most effective approaches to rallying community support and increasing classes and needed donations. The effort will hopefully include an 80th anniversary commemoration and/or other initiatives, depending upon the level of commitment and enthusiasm that we generate. It is understandable that there are many other competing priorities while everyone is still very much in recovery mode from a pandemic that is not yet over but I am asking anyone who can lend a hand with financial, creative and sustainable ideas to keep our school going for another 80 years.
Kindly reach out to me directly at Mayor@vobny.com. We need you to be a part of a new team to invigorate BAS.
In the interim, any financial support is so appreciated and can be directed to: The Bronxville Adult School, P.O. Box 334, Bronxville, NY 10708.
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SOURCE: Mary Ann Magliato | Secretary to Mayor & Village Administrator |