Gan Miriam center closes down with little notice

Posted

Less than a week.

That’s all parents from Gan Miriam Early Learning Center had to make other arrangements for the kids after learning the organization lost its space at the Riverdale Jewish Center and was closing its doors for good.

Such news would be bad enough, but the timing of the announcement — at the end of the school year — made the situation even worse.

“According to what we were told (June 20) via email, the RJC decided to close the day care since they received a better financial offer,” said Lilach Bar, whose daughter recently completed Gan Miriam’s program for 2-year-olds. “From my understanding, the day care was given (a) 10-day notice to vacate the place.”

Hezzy Jesin, the Jewish center’s executive director, wouldn’t talk about why Gan Miriam closed, or why it happened on short notice.

In a statement emailed to The Riverdale Press, Jesin focused more on history, talking about its founding at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale some 30 years ago, and how it has been a “great community resource and home for many of our children.”

“A decade ago, when the HIR went through renovations and could no longer house the Gan, the Riverdale Jewish Center agreed to become home to the Gan as a service to the community,” Jesin said. “We are proud of the many years we were able to offer the Gan affordable space to house their program.”

However, parents who had children at Gan Miriam — which declined to comment — weren’t able to reflect back on better days. Instead, they coped with trying to find out where their children would spend the summer.

“Had I known a month ago, I could have gone and looked at alternatives,” said Yael Buckstein, whose son was a student at Gan Miriam. “But now, all the schools are out already, which doesn’t leave time to go and see other places for your child.”

Bar and other parents already were reaching out to different nursery schools. But as of last week, they have had little luck. Many preschools already are filled with extensive waiting lists.

Gan Miriam did hold a parent meeting two weeks ago, Bar said, where they were told someone from the Jewish Center would “make some phone calls on their behalf” to try and find new placement.

Bar, however, isn’t confident that would happen, considering how the closing itself was handled. Gan Miriam is cleaning out its space at the Jewish Center, and construction is set for the arrival of the new tenant, Bar said she was told.

“It’s disappointing to know that an institution such as a synagogue that people trust and believe in will act like this,” Bar said.

In addition to parents, Gan Miriam’s unexpected closing at 3700 Independence Ave., also impacts eight teachers who were scheduled to run the summer program for 15 families. The summer session would have begun July 5, Bar said.

Despite the struggles to find a new nursery school at such a late date, Bar and Buckstein remained optimistic. While they have no ill will toward the day care or Jewish Center, they still wish everyone had received far more notice.

“The kids were always very happy there,” Buckstein said. “It was a very organized and reliable place.

“You know the same teachers for many years. So, you knew who your kids were going to have.”

Comments

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Momof4

I'm wondering why the RJC is being so closemouthed as to why they unceremoniously kicked out Gan Miriam? The RJC kicked out the pre school in order to accept the 8th grade class of a charter school from Marble Hill. A charter school that was written about in an unfavorable light in this paper last year.  See http://riverdalepress.com/stories/Neighbors-knock-new-charter-school,60262

RJC did this without notifying the community,  many of their members or the principals of the 2 schools already there - RKA and PS 24. 

This is a disaster in the making for residents for a multitude of reasons. As a co-op owner up the block I am horrified about what the future holds. That 2 block area is already overcrowded with the RKA and PS 24 already there. Drop off and dismissal is already an accident waiting to happen. How can adding another grade with buses, parents and teachers attached do anything but make it worse??  Add the anti social behavior that you note in your article and its a powder keg.   No wonder RJC doesn't want to publicize this. Its also interesting to note that when leaders at PS 24 went to RJC a few years ago when they lost their annex lease at the Whitehall and needed more space for their overcrowded building they were turned away.

I've been told the RJC board is having a vote shortly to approve their new tenants. I implore that further investigation be done.

Friday, July 7
LBar

Just a correction to the article- the treasurer of the RJC, who attended the meeting was the one to offer that the synagogue will make calls on behalf of the parents to local daycares, not the learning center.

Friday, July 7
BronxMom

I share the original poster's concerns about the replacement of Gan Miriam with the 8th grade class from Atmosphere Academy.

RKA's student body continues to grow (over 200 students are anticipated in next year's freshman class and over 300 in the rising 6th grade class) and PS 24 is straining to accommodate the over 1,000 students it currently enrolls. It's hard to imagine anyone - resident, parent, teacher, student, or school administrator - believing that another school in this 2-block area that already has well over 2,000 students is a good idea.

I'm hopeful the Press will investigate this aspect of the story more fully.

Saturday, July 8
llstein

hello everyone. i rarely comment on these kinds of things but someone needs to separate emotions from facts as this is pretty nasty smear stuff.

shame on gan minim, not rjc. gan miriam was founded at HIR, it is named for rabbi weiss's mother. when hir decided to unceremoniously kick out the gan it was because hir was building a bigger space. and so, gan miriam moved to roc 10 years ago. at that time the school had 75-100 students spanning daycare-like to 2 year to 5 year olds.

however over the course of the past ten years, gan miriam administration let the school languish down to less than 25 children. shame on you gan miriam. meanwhile, according tho the presentation many of us heard, gan miriam was paying rjc a small % of revenue (tuition) as a fee to use the building. hello? the gan was not even covering costs for lights, air conditioning, heating, wear and tear on the building, bathroom supplies and so on.

so who deserves the blame? the gan. shame on the director and the administration for watching sar, wta, westchester day, etc. and ,many schools around it pop up and they did nearly nothing to maintain, let alone grow, enrollment. the most gan did was post flyers inside rjc. that is not marketing when you advertise to your existing base. shame on gan miriam for seeing the decline over several years and doing nothing. shame on them for not telling their parents.

shame on the gan for taking advantage of a synagogue and running it at a loss. of course this looks bad for rjc, but the alternative was worse. perhaps the short notice was unfair, granted, but it was unethical for the gan admin to not tell parents the financial state it was in. it was immoral for them not to disclose to its teachers. it was bury-head-in-sand mentality to think they could keep the free ride on rjc which they know quite well was not doing well financially. it is unforgivable for the gan to pay roughly $25000 per year in rent when it was using many times over that cost in rjc space and utilities. according to the presentation made by the board at an rjc meeting the new school will bring in 25 times that in rent plus an additional six-figure payment for utilities. how is this even close to comparable?

now set aside the financials and just look at the dwindling enrollment at gan miriam. why? outdated programming. not keeping up with community trends. not keeping an eye on competition. and to blame rjc? ridiculous. fact its stranger than fiction. shame on gan miriam. why not go back to hir and see what their administration says about you running a school at a massive loss and force hir to eat the costs?

like many in riverdale, we feel it is shame on riverdale press for printing such a biased piece of sensationalistic news. it is sad that jews feel the need to air dirty laundry in public. this is the aftermath of when rich jews have too much time on their hands. give charity and be humble, instead of arrogance and bullying.

(i am sure there will be replies to this posting, but i have no intentions of replying. )

| Monday, July 10
deborah

This is for the 'Momf4' who needs to get her facts in order:

Comment: "...charter school from Marble Hill. "

Response: I love how most Riverdale families voted for Hillary and feel we are so accepting and progressing UNTIL it comes to YOUR backyard. A fancy way of saying: racist. SO the kids are black or hispanic? So what? They are better behaved than the rich kids attending RAMAZ. Can you be a bigger racist? Are you in Trump's cabinet?

Comment: "This is a disaster in the making for residents for a multitude of reasons. As a co-op owner up the block I am horrified about what the future holds. That 2 block area is already overcrowded with the RKA and PS 24 already there. Drop off and dismissal is already an accident waiting to happen. How can adding another grade with buses,"

Response: Get a clue. You need not be so "horrified". Like, ohmigawd! NYC student in 7th grade and above take PUBLIC transportation, ala MTA buses. So, actually, instead of those hobnobbing minivan ladies of leisure parking illegally in front of RJC to drop off their precious million dollar JAPs, there will be ZERO parking or drop off in frontof RJC as the kids will all be taking mass transit. Clueless.

Comment: "Add the anti social behavior that you note in your article and its a powder keg."

Response: You obviously dos not have any kids that attend SAR or Frisch, etc.... these "good Jewish schools" Those schools are well known for rowdy, anti-social bullying, teen alcohol parties, and so on. If anything, many people are quietly (but not posting or voicing this for fear of public rebuke) rejoicing that a non-RAMAZ type school will be here. These kids are the model, quiet kids you dream of honey. You should be so luck that your kids weren't so bratty. I bet all your kids have iPhones, right? (The #1 bullying device and anti-social issue these days. Ask any child psychologist.) How many of these poor, low-income kids have such access or devices? Again, get a clue instead of spending your time in spandex a a yoga class after you drop your kids off at a ruch kids school while these kids and their parents are working themselves to the bone. Are you a Trump supporter? Fine. Just don't be ignorant. Are you a Hillary supporter? Prove it.

Clueless.

| Tuesday, July 11
Momof4

For Deborah who doesn’t know me as she seems to feel she does (I would NEVER wear spandex!):

Sweetheart, these are the facts. All my kids have gone or currently go to RKA. They are all the white minority on their group of friends; friends who I love like my own kids. So your accusations of racism are ridiculously unfounded. But thanks for the assumption. If you read the link, Atmosphere Charter has a history of children with anti-social behavior, period, I don’t care about other schools. So your claim that “These kids are the model, quiet kids you dream of’ is completely unfounded. Among other things the article states: “Students from the charter school come out and they throw rocks at the dogs,” “Atmosphere’s students “started throwing things” in her yard.” “school employees fail to control the students.” “there is no way to get through Marble Hill with all of these buses,” “teachers park on the block in areas designated as “no parking,” “school buses and parents’ cars causing traffic jams.”

I’m not sure how Ramaz or other “good Jewish schools” came into this. That sounds pretty anti-semitic to me but I DON’T KNOW YOU so I can’t make that accusation.

Darling, you clearly spend no time with teenagers, on the street or the subways or busses. Without a doubt every teen, from any neighborhood or socio-economic class has a more sophisticated phone then you or I do (again, I don’t know you so if you have a really cool phone then I apologize hun). Though again, I’m not sure what it has to do with the central issue here. RJC, on the down low, is providing space to this school. It will create HAVOC in already overcrowed and don’t fool yourself that is won’t.

Have a good day, sunshine.

Tuesday, July 11
NYC Mom & Teacher

I teach at a very exclusive private school in Westchester. We recently had a scandal in which our elementary school students, during a gathering, were watching pornography on their iPhones. These were the kids of bankers, academics, doctors, lawyers, and statesmen.

All kids display anti-social behavior and test boundaries, this is what kids do. We just have a blind spot to our own (white, middle class) children. If this scandal had happened in another context, it would be an example of how dangerous other schools are, and how our own children need protecting.

Many Riverdale residents seem to forget they live in New York City, which is a racially, religiously, and economically diverse place. We also struggle to square our political ideals (supplanting equality) with our actions (Not In My Back Yard). I'm sure many also support De Blasio whose agenda includes educational equality. If people are looking for a homogenous, middle class, sleepy city, there are many suburbs in NY, NJ and CT which are much more affordable than Riverdale. But here, their kids will be exposed to hard drugs, opioid problems, dysfunctional families, and sexual assault with no consequence (remember, Brock Turner was a middle class, white, Stanford student). We need to come to terms with where will live and what our true beliefs are, or we will continue to face these issues over and over again.

My only concern was traffic, as I like how "semi-suburban" Riverdale is. However, I realize this may change, as it's part of city life. If, as deborah claims, the students will take public transportation, then I have no issue with the move (other than how callous RJC is in their sentiments and ignores that they are a part of our community). We already have kids at RKA who are from outside our neighborhood, and frankly, the only problem children I encounter are the preppy Manhattan College students who drunkenly wander into our neighborhood in the middle of the night.

We live in Riverdale, in the Bronx, in NYC. No matter what your realtor told you, this isn't Scarsdale. My kids will encounter many kinds of diverse people, but probably won't develop a heroin problem or a sense of entitlement. As a parent and teacher, I couldn't be happier about this.

Wednesday, July 12