Heads Of The Adult School Of Montclair Say They Are Fighting To Survive

ASM will plead its case at Monday night's school board meeting


Suzy Kass, executive director of the Adult School of Montclair, told Montclair Patch that the school may have to close within the next 18 months if it can't persuade the Montclair Board of Education to provide more support.

After years of mostly "breaking even," she says the Adult School of Montclair took a huge hit last year when the Montclair Board of Education—facing its own financial challenges—decided that the Adult School would have to start covering the costs of its employees' health and benefit plans.

Previously, those costs—estimated at about $55,000—were funded by the school district.

"We could only last another one and a half years on the budget we have now," Kass said.

Kass and Jon Bonesteel, the head of the school's Board of Trustees, want the Board of Education to give the Adult School five years to start covering the health and benefit costs.

The Adult School has three full-time employees and one part-time employee.

"We want the board to give us five years to phase this in," Bonesteel said.

Kass emphsaized that the school is not out to make money.

"We're a break-even institution," she said. "We don't want to raise tuition.

"We've already raised tuition the last three semesters in a row," she added.

On Sunday, the Adult School of Montclair sent out an email asking residents to turn out at Monday night's school board meeting to show their support for the Adult School.

"We need the MBOE to partner with us as we retool to meet the additional costs it now requires us to assume," the email said.

At the board meeting, Kass and Bonesteel plan to release the Adult School's five-year plan "for self-reliance and community dynamism."

Currently, the Adult School's budget is about $500,000. The school pays the district about $30,000 to rent its facilities.

Kass said that the Adult School, which already offers more than 200 live classes, would like to add even more classes to its schedule in the future.

"We really want to build this program, working with schools and other partners," she said.

Bonesteel added that the goal is to make the school "significant and not just successful."

The Adult School also has asked its supporters to go on its website here to sign a petition in support of the school.

The school board meeting is at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 5 at the high school's George Inness Annex Atrium at 141 Park Street.

Theodora McKee March 06, 2012 at 10:34 PM
I am sorry that you few people who don't like the Adult School are so free with your comments, and I hope that the thousands of people who take courses and have taken them in the past realize what they may be losing. Speak up, those of you who value ASM, who don't want to see it go under. Ask the candidates who are running for the privilege of managing this town where they stand on supporting ASM - and vote accordingly. ASM is a resource not to be destroyed.
Right of Center March 06, 2012 at 10:47 PM
I like the ASM. I had no idea until recently it was subsidized by the taxpayer. That's the only part I'm against. Long may it live, if self-supported (as it speciously claims on it's website).
Shelley Emling March 06, 2012 at 10:50 PM
I have taken a variety of classes at the ASM and have enjoyed every one of them.
A. Gideon March 06, 2012 at 10:57 PM
"I am sorry that you few people who don't like the Adult School are so free with your comments, and I hope that the thousands of people who take courses and have taken them in the past realize what they may be losing." I hope this isn't a reflection of ASM students being so quick to leap to incorrect conclusions given a complete lack of data. As it happens, I have taken an ASM class. It is quite possible for someone to have done so but still have some or all of such questions as: o Should this be subsidized by the town? o Should it be on the school budget? o Should the subsidy include coverage for those from outside of Montclair? There's no reason to try to turn this into a personal matter of "liking" ASM or not, nor having taken classes or not. As it happens, I do "like" ASM. I just don't know if my liking it is sufficient reason to grant it a taxpayer subsidy, much less one that benefits non-residents. Trying to make this a personal matter smacks of that radio host that's been in the news recently having stooped to personal attacks so as to avoid an actual discussion of the issues. Nobody's being as vulger as I understand he was, but there's still plenty of room for discussion of these questions w/o it degrading to likes or dislikes or who is in one group or another. Ultimately, we are all in the same group: Montclair taxpayers. ...Andrew
Butterfly March 07, 2012 at 03:35 AM
All this drama, why not raise the fees and be done with it ? Its not like 55k is the lynchpin here for the ASM. Its the access to the facilities


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