Dear Fellow Parents,
Greetings from the ASW Board of Trustees, and we all trust you are all returning from a very happy spring break! I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the season here in Warsaw, and what a joy it is to regularly see more sunshine and feel more warmth! In February, I wrote to you about the tuition and fee structure for the 2023-2024 school year, Board to community engagement, and the Master Facility Plan. However, in conversation with Director Jon Zurfluh and my fellow Trustees, I realized there is a lot more exciting information to share.
In the spirit of transparency and open communication, I am delighted to share five pieces of information pertinent to our school, community, and future work: our transitional plan with PSI, student demographics and enrollment news, more information on the Master Facility Plan and the general contractor we have chosen, new Trustees and Board Chair for the coming school year, and our ASW 70th birthday planning.
PSI & Our Transitional Plan
At our March 20 action meeting, the Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding between ASW and PSI. This agreement extends the formal collaboration between the schools for another year and provides for a stable transition of PSI students while the school re-establishes its campus in Kyiv in August. Under this agreement, some PSI students will remain in ASW until they are able to return to Kyiv and join PSI there.
Our Board very much values our ongoing partnership with PSI and also congratulates their entire community on its recent accreditation completion. We believe that our commitment to PSI is an important example of living our school’s mission. I am proud to be a part of this crucial work.
Student Demographics and Enrollment
Director of Admissions Eva Woodruff provided the Board with a comprehensive report on student demographics and enrollment on April 17. As of that date, the current year enrollment stood at 1022, compared to 978 at this time last year. The total number of newly enrolled students this current academic year is 260 students, compared to 229 in 2021-2022.
Re-enrollment of current students is now completed. So far, 97 (10%) students confirmed their withdrawals at the end of this current academic year, mostly due to relocation, compared to 93 (9.7%) in April 2022. In May, 85 Grade 12 students will be graduating. 840 (90%) students confirmed re-enrollment for 2023-2024.
On April 12, the second round of admission decisions was finalized, and applicants were offered places or were waitlisted in line with the priority rules described in the admissions policy, and on the basis of space availability. So far, after the first and second rounds of admission decisions, we have confirmed places for 127 students, 148 students are waitlisted due to lack of space in grades, and there are 59 additional applications in progress.
Among the newly admitted students, 62 hold US passports. The next largest nationality groups have so far come in at 15 Polish, followed by 10 South Korean, 9 Ukrainian, 8 Canadian, 5 Israeli, and more. New admits are a mix of Embassy, corporate, and private payers. Worth mentioning is the total number of applications received for 2023-2024, which is an all-time high of 445. Hopefully, the enrollment process for new students will be completed in June.
Last month, the Board selected CFE as the general contractor for our Building the Future
project. The major factors that contributed to the decision were lower overall cost, fixed price over the full contract length, cafeteria extension execution in summer 2023, shorter classroom disruption times, and a longer warranty period. In addition, as emphasized by ADFO Jim Young, CFE was more flexible in meeting ASW’s needs in phasing and protecting the community from disruption.
This is an exciting time to be a part of the ASW community, and our ambitious plans for this renovation of our campus are no exception! We officially break ground in June.
New Board Members and Board Chair for Next Year
At our March meeting, Governance Committee Chair Sarah Kyle presented the results of this year’s Board election. Mr. Eric Kasik (US-seat candidate) ran unopposed and secured the US-elected seat, which is a two-year term beginning in July. Ms. Stefka Elincheva won the non-US-elected seat, also a two-year term beginning this July.
The Board also had two open seats to appoint, one US and one non-US. Ms. Karla Walsworth will serve in the US-appointed seat, a two-year term beginning in July. Ms. Olga Markiewicz-Puslecka will serve in the non-US-appointed seat, also a two-year term beginning in July.
Under our bylaws, US Ambassador Mark Brzezinski appoints our Board Chair and a designated US Embassy Trustee for each applicable term. Earlier this year, Mr. Kurt Holmgren was appointed to complete the rest of former Trustee Ms. Ann Gabrielson’s term, which then expires in June 2024. Ambassador Brzezinski has also approved the appointment of Mr. John Nordlander as a Trustee for a 3-year term beginning on July 1. Mr. Nordlander will be moving to Warsaw with his family this summer.
In addition, I am beyond excited to announce that Ambassador Brzezinski has appointed Ms. Sarah Kyle to serve as my successor in the Board Chair position for the 2023-24 school year. Sarah previously served as Board Chair at the American School of Vilnius and has done fantastic work as our current Governance Chair this year. She and her husband Shawn have four children, two of whom are in the upper school at ASW. Sarah has enormous passion and heart for our work and is a constant presence at school and community events. She authentically lives the vision and mission of our school and is dedicated to ensuring that ASW’s future is as bright and strong as possible. I know without a doubt that Sarah is the right person to continue leading our Board and could not ask for a more dedicated, hard-working, or compassionate successor.
Finally, it is important to confirm that we have also completed the annual process of extending the contract of Mr. Zurfluh as School Director through June 2025.
70th Birthday Planning - 2023-2024
As you may know, ASW will celebrate its 70th anniversary in the next school year marking 70 years since its founding in September 1953, the first official school year. To mark this very special occasion, the school will be hosting a number of events throughout the 2023-2024 school year. The largest of these events, and likely the most memorable, will be the 70th Anniversary Gala - “Building the Future” - which will take place on Saturday, November 11, 2023, at the Hilton Warsaw City Hotel. The Gala will feature special guests, live performances, and a wide range of prizes. While our goal is to commemorate ASW’s history, celebrate what we have accomplished, and share our vision for the future, it will also be an essential fundraising event.
Organized by ASW staff, parents, and the Board of Trustees, the Gala will raise money for a bold initiative in education – the creation of a student-led, community-advised foundation that will help fulfil the school’s mission of “changing the world for the better.” This foundation was inspired by the resounding success of #ASWforUkraine, an effort that has housed, fed, and supported thousands of Ukrainian refugees over the past year. With a structured and sustained effort and an established foundation, #ASWfor… will support many more people and projects moving forward. It will also be an opportunity for the school to reconnect with our esteemed alumni and establish stronger ties with the larger community.
This is a beautiful time to be a part of our dynamic collaboration, and I look forward to ongoing dialogue and connections with you all.
Other Announcements & Closing
And don’t worry – this school year is not over yet! On Saturday, June 3, the PTO will sponsor a BBQ that will feature fun kid activities, local vendors and restaurants, a special PSI farewell, a groundbreaking activity for our new Building the Future project, and an opportunity to connect with Trustees and alumni while learning about who we are, what we are doing, and where we are going from here. Stay tuned for more information. It will be a wonderful chance to come together and celebrate such a vibrant and successful school year. Looking forward to seeing you there!
The other Trustees and I would also like to invite you to our seventh and final Board action meeting of the year on Monday, May 15 at 6:00 pm. You are welcome to join us in person or virtually via Zoom or Facebook Live. We have seen increased community engagement this year, which is what we hoped for. We welcome your involvement throughout, especially during our Public Comment section. Your participation and voice matter!
As I begin to close out my second and sadly final year as your Board Chair, I want to thank each of you for your continued support, generosity, and service to ASW. It continues to be a privilege to serve such an amazing community fully committed to our vision and mission. In everything we do and believe, especially in the past year, we are truly becoming a community that changes the world for the better. Let’s work to extend ASW’s long-standing 70-year tradition of success and excellence long into the future.
Katharine (Kay) T. LaBanca