After seven years, Bnot Shulamith of Long Island, the local offspring of Brooklyn’s venerable Shulamith School for Girls, is closer than it’s ever been to a Five Towns home of its own, according to the school’s executive director, Rabbi Moshe Zwick.
Talks are underway to purchase a permanent campus in Inwood to house the entire Five Towns institution, he confirmed Monday. “We are negotiating now to finalize a deal to acquire a campus in the Five Towns,” he said. The school’s students currently are spread out in three locations.
Rabbi Zwick also confirmed that Shulamith is in negotiations to sell its current Midwood, Brooklyn campus. However, he emphasized that there is no plan to shut down the 76-year-old Brooklyn school soon, or anytime in the future.
“As long as it’s realistic to have classes the school will continue in Brooklyn,” he said. After a sale, “the school will remain in this building for at least a few years. After that the school will continue elsewhere in Brooklyn because we will have to vacate.”
The Shulamith board of directors has authorized Rabbi Zwick to seek a buyer for the Brooklyn campus, he said. The school’s bylaws require board approval of a sale.
Sheldon Fliegelman, Shulamith’s chairman of the board, confirmed in a telephone interview Monday night that the board at a meeting several months ago, granted unanimous approval to sell the Brooklyn campus.
Fliegelman also confirmed that Shulamith School for Girls would continue to operate both the elementary school and high school in Brooklyn, albeit in a different location than at present.
Any deal to sell the spacious Brooklyn property would include a clause allowing the school to remain in place for at least two-and-a-half years, Rabbi Zwick said, while a new location is found and prepared. However, “We’re not building a building in Brooklyn.”
Shulamith’s current real estate situations, in Brooklyn and on Long Island, are a drain on the school’s resources, its leaders believe.
The historic Brooklyn site, originally the home of the Vitagraph Movie Studio, and later of Yeshiva University’s Brooklyn Talmudical Academy, known as B.T.A., is too large for the school’s current needs, said Fliegelman. Flatbush’s Modern Orthodox community has given way to a decidedly more yeshivish demographic, he noted. Meanwhile, enrollment has dropped.
In addition, “The place needs major repairs,” Fliegelman said of the Brooklyn campus. “So you’re talking about a situation where investment in infrastructure has to take place. Do you want to do that to? Add that onto the pile.”
He warned that dramatically higher tuition would be the only way to satisfy the desire of some parents to maintain the current Brooklyn campus.
In the Five Towns the school has faced the strain of three separate sets of expenses; the pre-school is in one location, the elementary school in another, and a middle school in a third.
The campus in Inwood that the school hopes to purchase consists of several existing buildings that currently are empty.
The school’s growth in the Five Towns depends in large part on acquiring a permanent home. For instance, a high school would become a possibility. “Once we have space, which would be when we would occupy the new [campus], then we could entertain opening a high school,” Fliegelman said. “Right now we’re in four buildings and we don’t really relish going to a fifth.”
(By Mayer Fertig: The Jewish Star)