Modern Orthodox Ramaz School Ripped Off By Bernie Madoff

Ramaz leaders email their supporters:

Dear Ramaz Family,
 
Earlier this week, we sent out a brief message to quickly reassure all those in the Ramaz family that, though Ramaz has exposure resulting from the alleged fraud committed by Bernard Madoff and his affiliated businesses, through our investment in Ascot Partners, the school’s ability to operate as normal should not be impacted by this situation, whatever its outcome.  Following a Board meeting held last night, we now wish to provide additional comments and information.
 
At the recommendation of our attorneys, Debevoise and Plimpton, the Executive Committee has formed a Special Committee to oversee the review of the facts relating to this matter, and to make appropriate recommendations.
 
The events that have unfolded during the past week have compounded the effects of a downward spiral in the stock market and the general economic uncertainty of the past year.  As a result, Ramaz has suffered significant financial losses.  Each year, Ramaz budgets approximately 5% of the funds in our endowment to support classroom and co-curricular programs. Because of these financial setbacks, the money flowing from the endowment into operating income will be smaller than in previous years. The impact of the loss the $6 million invested in Ascot is approximately $400,000, or just over 1% of our annual budget.
 
Nonetheless, we wish to assure you that Ramaz will continue to offer the unique education for which it always has been known.  We remain committed to providing age-appropriate and supportive education delivered by the best faculty we can assemble.
 
The school also will continue to offer financial aid.  We reiterate our commitment to making the opportunity for the study of Torah available to all interested families, and therefore view financial aid as an entitlement, and not as a charity, for families whose income, expenses or circumstances require such assistance.
 
Disciplined fiscal management and strict oversight always have been an integral part of the Ramaz philosophy.  In the past year, we have worked conscientiously to put into effect efficiencies and cost savings wherever possible, without affecting the educational experience for our students.  We continue to carefully monitor our projected expenditures.  The budget review process for next year is underway; next year’s financial plan will incorporate these efficiencies, as well as other belt-tightening measures. 
 
Additionally, we assure you that the lessons learned from the challenges we now face will be incorporated into our forward planning and our governance. 
 
We are confident that, going forward, our careful financial management, along with the continued support of the extended Ramaz family and others who support its vision, will ensure that Ramaz preserves its educational uniqueness while becoming a more efficient institution. 
 
May this difficult week end with a true Shabbat shalom,
Pamela Rohr, Board Chair
Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Principal  
Judith E. Fagin, Head of School

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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