Planet Princeton

American Boychoir School to Finish Academic Year Early Due to Financial Woes

american boychhoirThe American Boychoir School will end the school year almost a month early because of the school’s financial troubles, school officials said in a letter to supporters yesterday.

Last Friday the school filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and school officials said $350,000 would need to be raised in order for the school to finish the academic year. So far the school has raised $82,400, or about a quarter of the money needed. Even if the full $350,000 is raised, the school will still end the academic year early, on May 16 or 17. Graduation is usually the second weekend in June.

In the update, the head of the school’s board of trustees begs people to donate and tells them to skip pledging.

“We need more large gifts. We really need to skip pledging and move directly to donation,” reads the letter. “For those of you who supported us last year and the year before in our emergency fundraising efforts, please know that this time is different. We have no safety net. Without an immediate infusion of cash, we will be forced to close our doors quickly. Please, please give today to support the remaining weeks of this school year and allow the boys of the American Boychoir to sing their way through to a proper year end. Funding permitting, we plan to end the school year on the weekend of May 16th and 17th.”

How tight are the finances? Because of a flight delay the choir needed to stay in a hotel last weekend. If the school had to pick up the tab it would have been a financial disaster, according to the head of the board.

“Our hosts made arrangements and paid for the hotel,’ the letter reads. “Thanks to their generous spirit, we avoided what could have been a damaging hit to our finances.”

The full text of the April 13 letter:

Last Friday, April 10, we announced our very difficult decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. At that time I promised to come back to you in a few days with more information and status on our effort to raise the $350,000 we need to operate the school through the end of this school year.

Since our announcement three days ago, we have received gifts and pledges totaling $82,400 toward the $350,000 need. That represents 24% of our goal. $42,950 has been received with the rest remaining in pledge form. The average size of gifts received (not including pledges) was $767 with a range of individual gifts from $5 to $10,000. Just more than half of the 56 gifts were $100 or less. Gifts came in by check, credit card and through PayPal. For those who have made pledges, please be sure that your funds follow quickly: get that check in the mail or simply go to our secure website to make your donation now.

While these early results are encouraging, we still have a very long way to go to meet our goal. We need more large gifts. We really need to skip pledging and move directly to donation. There are numerous ways to give – PayPal, cash, check, credit card – whatever works best for you.

For those of you who supported us last year and the year before in our emergency fundraising efforts, please know that this time is different. We have no safety net. Without an immediate infusion of cash, we will be forced to close our doors quickly. Please, please give today to support the remaining weeks of this school year and allow the boys of the American Boychoir to sing their way through to a proper year end. Funding permitting, we plan to end the school year on the weekend of May 16th and 17th. That is earlier than originally planned, but it provides all of the time we need to provide a rich set of musical, academic and extracurricular activities to complete the boys’ experience this year.

For the moment, the boys continue to sing. The Concert Choir is out on its Spring Tour to Texas and the Southeast. On Saturday, flight delays into Dallas caused an unexpected hotel stay, with our weary travelers arriving in Abilene after midnight. Our hosts made arrangements and paid for the hotel. Thanks to their generous spirit, we avoided what could have been a damaging hit to our finances, and our boys performed for this appreciative audience at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. They will be in Dallas over the next several days working with the Texas Boys Choir and singing a concert at University Park United Methodist Church on Tuesday, April 14. If you live in the area, please be sure to attend a concert.

We will remain in touch with you to keep you abreast of our fundraising efforts and to communicate more specific plans for the coming weeks. We will send another report on the evening of Thursday April 16th. On behalf of ABS and the boys, I thank you for your patience and support in these difficult times.

Sincerely,

Rob D’Avanzo,
Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Casual Observer

    Looking at Planet Princeton, headlines, there is an interesting irony here. The American Boychoir, struggling to raise $350,000 so they can shut down, and Princeton University is progressing with their new $350,000,000 performing arts center announcing a $10,000,000 gift so they can build up. Who is going to fill that new hall if we do not teach our youth? This in no way justifies continuation of the long struggling boarding school.If ABS does not have support it needs after 70 some years, and its Board can only raise $31 K among themselves in the face of emergency, success seems very unlikely. Having noted that it does suggest that the mission, of providing boys, who have the gift of voice, an opportunity to grow with their talent in a non judgemental space has value not only to the boys, but to us all. How that is best achieved in the 21st century, only time, and some creative soul, will tell.

  • TFC-II

    This situation is pathetic and unconscionable management of an institution that promised to educate and resource development of children. What type of quality education these boys have been getting and/or their boarding circumstances when they go on tour with 50 boys and do not have buffer funds of what would be less than about $5K. What if the furnace breaks? What if the bus, or the gym, or the roof, or the kitchen or the plumbing need some sort of safety repair? And if you’re that broke, how the heck am I confident that you are spending appropriate resources on vigilance to make sure the sex abuses never ever occur again? I know these families love this school, but if I were a parent, I would be beyond outraged (and even if tuition is less than at some comparable area schools, its still a hefty sum, and families uproot their lives to have their boys attend the school). Further, the communications from the school set a tone of grossly incompetent leadership. There is NO communicated sense of responsibility and “ownership” for any of this mess. Give give give us money now and fast, because we are desperate (with no discussion of why and/or a path to a future when things are not so desperate). I hope for a takeover of the choir operations so the beautiful music can continue (in some modified form – many of the boys do live reasonably locally and might be able to continue to rehearse periodically), but it’s a good thing the school is closing, and perhaps its best if it closes for good. Children’s education and well being should not be in the hands of such irresponsible adults.

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