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State of the School
Paula McGlarry: Introduction and Welcome
Doug Brophy: A Classroom Story
Doug Brophy: Programmatic Highlights
Doug Brophy: Long Range Planning Updates
Doug Brophy: Town Alumni/ae are Excelling
Paula McGlarry: Board Governance
Jamie Odell: The Fiscal Health of the School
Doug Brophy: Closing Remarks

Paula McGlarry: Introduction and Welcome

Good morning everyone. I’m Paula McGlarry, Co-Chair of Town’s Board of Trustees. My Co-Chair, Jamie Odell, and I would like to welcome you to the State of the School. For those of you who do not know me, this is my 13th year as a Town School parent. I have a daughter Fiona who is in 6th grade. And a daughter Maura who graduated from Town in 2020, and is now a Senior at Hackley. 

Our family’s love for the Town School began in the fall of 2010 when my husband Rob and I toured Town looking for a Kindergarten home for Maura. Town was the first school that we toured during our Kindergarten search. And I was overwhelmed by how special this school is. Something magical seemed to be happening at the end of this cul-de-sac. Something warm and nurturing, and academically enriching, in a beautiful physical space with outstanding faculty and an engaged, supportive community. 

Being unfamiliar with the independent school landscape in New York City, I thought perhaps this was just what all NYC independent schools provide. But as we toured many many more schools, we learned that Town was indeed unique. And my family has been very happy to call Town home for the past 13 years! 

Two weeks after my daughter Maura started at Town, she came home one day and said “You know, Mom, they have all the grades at Town up to 8th grade.” I said “Yes, I know.” and she said, “Will you sign me up for 1st grade too, and 2nd grade? And all the grades?” Those of you who have recently completed the NYC independent school process will find it amusing to imagine that getting a Town education is just a matter of “signing up”. But after witnessing Maura experience 1st grade, 2nd grade and all the grades here at Town, and then see her in high school has made me even more grateful for what this school provides - Town produces high schoolers who are independent and creative thinkers, resilient problem solvers, children who are able to work well in groups, confidently present and perform, advocate for themselves, high schoolers who are leaders in their school communities. 

And I see this not just in my own daughter. (Of course, if it was just Maura I would attribute it to my outstanding parenting.) But no, I see it in all of her peers as well.  I began my love affair with Town being so grateful for the warmth and wonder of the N-K wing. But it is culminating with unbelievable gratitude for the end product - outstandingly successful high schoolers.

During my time at Town, I have been privileged to give back to our school in many ways. When we toured Town, I remember a prospective parent asking the then Head of School about the relationship between the Town administration and the parent body and he said “This is a school that welcomes parents into the building.” That has been so true. There are so many ways that parents are able to be involved in, and integrate with, our school. Serving on the Board has been one such experience for me. This is my sixth year on the Board of Trustees, and my first in the Co-Chair role. It has been a great privilege to serve the school in this capacity, working alongside Jamie and our Vice Chair, Zainab Miller, and the full group of our incredible Trustees, all in partnership with our Head of School Doug Brophy. 

The Town School is incredibly fortunate to have Doug as our Head. There is no better person for this role. Of course, Doug’s endless dedication to this school and his exceptional work ethic are part of that. But it is also his tremendous vision for what this school needs to be successful now and into the future, and his passion and dedication to keep us on that path. And the care he gives to every decision which is grounded in the mission and purpose of this school and the school’s strategic plan for the future. It truly is a pleasure to work together with Doug on the important work of school governance here at Town. 

Now I will give you a little road map for the morning:   First, Doug is going to speak to us about the happenings at Town and the school’s plans for investing in our students’ futures. I will then come back up here and share a bit more about our Board governance.  And then Jamie will provide detail about the fiscal health of the school, including details about our budget, our expenses and our endowment.  We are going to cover a lot of material, but we will endeavor to keep this crisp and concise. I hope you to leave here with an understanding of academic excellence at Town, our Board governance, and the state of our school's finances.  We won’t have time to take questions at the end, but if anyone leaves here with questions about those three things or anything else, I encourage you to please reach out to Doug, Jamie or me directly.  And now I will turn things over to Doug.

Doug Brophy: A Classroom Story

It remains such a privilege to be leading Town in my sixth year. A privilege I embrace as Head of School, teacher and parent as I lead and love our school every day. As Paula said, this morning I’ll discuss how Town is thriving and how we will continue to do so.

Specifically: I’ll share a recent classroom story; discuss new programmatic highlights; update on our long-range strategic plan; and note the ultimate impact: ways that Town graduates are excelling.

Let me begin with a classroom story. I’m regularly in our classrooms, and during the week before Winter break I visited 3West, during a math lesson. The students were engaging multiplication and division through word problems and ratio tables. The initial word problem: Julie sells fresh apples for $5/pound. If you have $28, how many pounds of apples can you purchase? By working through the ratio table…..$5 to 1 pound, $10 to 2 pounds…up through $25 to 5 pounds, the students developed a conceptual understanding of the mathematics (not solely that 5 x 5 = 25 but why!).

And, as it is with all of our students, mastering that reasoning boosts not only a deeper appreciation for and retention of the algorithms, but also…problem-solving more broadly (this is new….what should I do first?).

And this classroom story also shows much more: the hallmarks of academic excellence at Town. 

Productive struggle: Developing strong habits of mind, including questioning, perseverance and flexible thinking. For those third graders, going beyond the algorithm to develop reasoning behind it. As we know, it’s in the struggle that learning sticks! And when a child’s teacher complements that productive struggle with support, love and hands-on classroom experiences (recall the smiles in those classroom photos), that’s joy in learning. 

Group work: encourages students to teach and learn from one another, collaborate and cooperate...skills not necessarily easy for adults! The 3rd graders ultimately worked in groups through a series of related word problems, solidifying their conceptual understandings, and it was augmented, with real collaboration and support. 

Now, much has been written about the “empathy advantage” and “cultural competency” as necessary to personal and professional success. Town’s mission...and our values of self, others and surroundings is why, in addition to the learning skills and habits that I’ve noted, we continue to expand our equity work. Town faculty will always engage in equity professional development, which in turn supports our ongoing curriculum design. And Town will continue to create and support spaces for our students and parents to discuss related issues that matter to them…issues that arise in school or in the world outside. We will always strive to be a school community grounded in inclusion, representation and a deep sense of belonging for all. 

Together, these educational hallmarks define for us “academic excellence,” so that Town students are always challenged, engaged and wanting to learn more…and then emerge as scholars, citizens and leaders, developing both a strong sense of self…and a lifelong love of learning. 

Doug Brophy: Programmatic Highlights

Here are some ways that such excellence is continuing school-wide:

Math. As exemplified in that 3rd grade classroom story, we are building on our mathematical problem-solving work, continuing to introduce problems across the grades that revolve around big ideas, have a high cognitive demand, and are contextualized using real-life situations. 

Technology. We are increasing our focus on educational technology and computational thinking, at all grade levels, as these skills and habits boost creativity and problem-solving across disciplines. 

Health & Wellness. We’ve discussed in recent years the increasing importance of health and wellness for our students. This spring, we will begin a partnership with the Institute for Social Emotional Learning (IFSEL) to help guide our efforts in building out our Health and Wellness program. 

Civic Engagement. We are continuing to refine our 7th/8th grade Civic Engagement program, with new community partnerships. And our culminating 8th grade trip to Maine will be even more engaging, as the students’ complement their civic engagement focus with local activities and a visit to Acadia National Park!

Sustainability. I discussed with you at last year’s State of the School our plan to expand Town’s commitment to sustainability. We imagined together our students not only studying historically significant science experiments but replicating them on a fairly large scale, hands getting dirty in the soil. We envisioned our students growing sustainable food for the school and our nearby community. And to create such opportunities for our students, we spoke of our science faculty designing a full, N3-8 ecology curriculum, integrated into the science program, all to ensure the hands-on, experiential learning that is essential to Town’s approach. And, it’s happening! We built our new Ecology lab over the summer, enriching our science program and our students’ learning in all of the ways that we envisioned…and we soon will launch related partnerships to deepen this work.

Let me pause to acknowledge one important thing: All of these updates exemplify how Town continues to be the best Town, being true to our mission and enriching your children’s success. And these exciting, programmatic initiatives exist alongside what is most essential: continuing to ensure that we always have superb teaching to deliver our program.

Doug Brophy: Long Range Planning Updates

Each year, we enhance our hiring practices, always striving to appoint the most qualified. And so that Town faculty always remain at the top of their teaching game, we’ve strengthened our expectations around faculty professional development and formal evaluations. The context for these new protocols is Town’s current Long-Range Plan, now in its fourth year and focusing on Teaching Excellence, Learning Excellence, Community Connections, and Sustaining our School. As always, I will share a comprehensive, year-end, Long Range Planning update at my May coffee. And alongside this strategic planning, we are continuing to secure philanthropic funding for new learning spaces, building on the big success of our Ecology Lab. More to come on that as well!


Now, let’s take a step back: At Town, we do not simply charge our graduates to go out in the world and do good; from hands-on sustainability and ecology to civic engagement and all of the ways that Town lives its values across the program, we guide our students, we expect them to do good now. And let’s acknowledge how those characteristics—lives grounded in purpose and citizenship—are the hallmarks of a Town education. 

And as we further commit to making Town’s great program even better, we launched this year a significant expansion of our marketing and outreach efforts:

·    Five additional bus lines  

·    Exploring partnerships with local businesses to cultivate admissions relationships

·    Targeted financial aid to boost enrollment in our few under-enrolled grades

·    Significantly increased digital marketing

·    And a complete  redesign of the school’s website.

We are very pleased to see that, flowing from these efforts and the increasing reputation of Town’s program, not only have we reduced attrition by two-thirds but that student applications to Town, Kindergarten and school-wide, are up 30%.

And along these lines, and as we have emphasized in prior years, we are also continuing to meet our obligation to be budget-minded. We will continue to be fiscally responsible, looking to reduce costs and manage tuition, while never compromising Town’s program. 

All that I am sharing with you results from the wisdom, discernment, steadiness and tireless efforts of Town’s leadership—from divisional and academic oversight, finances and operations, technology, office, maintenance, security and kitchen teams...all in turn providing the foundation for Town teachers to do their exceptional work with as much dedication, care and success as ever.

And parents, thank you: Thank you for your partnership in your children’s education and for your commitment to Town more broadly.From the opening ceremony in the cul-de-sac, your participation in so many events—recently, last week’s social media discussion, the basketball game against Browning (that was some intense cheering!), and the wonderful Creative Encounters assembly with Misty Copeland—and all of your volunteering…all of it. Your partnership/our community are central to our success and that of our students, now and for their future.

Doug Brophy: Town Alumni/ae are Excelling

Now let’s talk about our students’ futures. It is always heartening to hear how our alumni continue to apply all they learned at Town -- using their voice, their skills, and their experiences. Here’s a very recent example:

After graduating from Town in 2013, Aidan Gibbons attended Bronx Science and then Harvard, studying Mathematics, Environmental Science and Public Policy. Aidan currently works at Charles River Associates, modeling large-scale energy projects, such as offshore wind farms and other strategies focused on long term decarbonization. When Aidan visited Town in November, he reflected on how his current use of applied mathematics relates directly to his old word problems in Ms. Levin’s 8th grade math class. For example, if there are customers that need this many megawatt hours of power, how many power plants do you need? Remind you of anything? It’s an iteration of what’s behind those third-grade ratio tables that I discussed earlier! Real-world-problem solving, grounded in sustainability and an exceptional, Town N-8 educational foundation.

As a long-tenured teacher reflected: Town is where our students become who they subsequently are. And our alumni’s accomplishments repeatedly show that they draw from their Town experiences as they continue to become their best selves.

Okay, indulge me for a moment, as I share a young-alumni update from last year’s address: of Dalton’s five, current starting varsity basketball players, four continue to be Town graduates, with two more on the bench! Yes, Town graduates excel in many ways!

Speaking of our young alumni, this is where they are currently thriving in high school and college 

Parents, as we are looking over these, let’s appreciate why they are so compelling: such highly competitive schools; those strong, smaller liberal arts colleges; tech and art schools…all reflecting the superb scholarship and range of interests that define the Town student body, representing themselves and their Town education so well.


And from the first days of Nursery 3 up through 8th grade, Town’s greatest strength remains how we honor our history, mission and values, while leaning into/embracing what’s most educationally relevant—our core curriculum, new initiatives flowing from our long range plan, ensuring the best teaching and learning—so that our school is both stable and dynamic and that Town is always at its best, continuing to offer the best educational experiences for our students—your children. Thank you for this privilege.

Central to such sustained success is the strong governance of our school. For a discussion on the essential role of Town’s Board, I’ll now turn things back to our Board co-Chair, Paula McGlarry. 

Paula McGlarry: Board Governance

I am now going to give you a window into the role and work of the Board.   

Delivery of Town’s exceptional educational experience is achievable only with the tremendous work and dedication of Doug, the school’s leadership team, each and every faculty member and each and every staff member, all in continued strong partnership with all of you, our Town parents and families. And ensuring that Town’s educational experience remains exceptional tomorrow and into the future requires a well-managed, fiscally healthy institution with strong Board governance and thoughtful and strategic stewardship.

Stewardship of Town is a partnership between the Head of School and the Board of Trustees. Doug’s role as Head of School is one of leadership and management. The Board’s role is one of governance. The Board is an advocate for Town, helping ensure that resources are in place for short- and long-term success and that Town is delivering on its mission for students today and into the future.

The Board’s work can be broken down into three big jobs, which as you’ll see are quite distinct from the job of Head of School.

  1. We hire and annually review the Head of School.  We also provide support to the Head throughout the year, and ensure accountability to Town’s mission and strategic goals. 
  2. We also set the budget in advance of each school year, and provide oversight and guidance throughout the year as needed
  3. And we engage in long range financial and strategic planning, to ensure the continued health and sustainability of the school

Town’s Board is composed of 24 trustees, representing current parents, parents of graduates, Town alumni, Town faculty, and other independent school educators. 

The Board brings considerable combined expertise in law, non-profit governance, strategic planning, communication, education, diversity equity and inclusion work, and finance.  This group is deeply invested in the important role of the Board.  It is a highly engaged, well functioning and hard working Board.

We execute our governance role by investing time and energy in robust discussion; by considering, reviewing, challenging the issues facing the school; and by serving as thought partners for Doug, in support of his leadership and management.  A significant portion of that governance time  and energy is focused on the school’s fiscal  health. I am very happy to welcome Jamie up to give you an overview of the school’s, finances and budget.

Jamie Odell: The Fiscal Health of the School

Good morning everyone. My name is Jamie Odell and this is my fourth year on Town’s Board of Trustees and my first as the Co-Chair with Paula. 

My wife, Lauren, and I have two children at Town. Our daughter, Harper, is a fifth grader and our son, Brooks is in third grade. 

Harper and Brooks joined Town in Nursery 3, so this is our eighth year as members of the Town community and it has been an absolutely amazing experience, both for Harper and Brooks and for Lauren and myself. 

Later today, you'll receive enrollment contracts for the coming school year that will reflect a 4% increase in tuition. 

In the next few minutes I will walk you through how Town’s budget is set, how we make decisions around tuition and the role that the endowment plays in ensuring Town’s long-term sustainability. 

Thanks to expertise from Town’s Finance team and the Board Finance Committee, this work is focused on making every dollar count and investing in your children’s best educational experience


As you’ll see in the pie charts momentarily, Town’s budget is fairly simple.  The majority of our income is from tuition and our greatest expenses are around our greatest assets—faculty and staff. 

To set the budget, we start with what is needed to deliver on Town’s mission: People, Program, Infrastructure and Financial Aid.  Town’s Head of School, Director of Finance, Admin Team and and the Board’s Finance Committee work in close coordination to establish the appropriate expense base necessary to deliver Town’s program, and the Board then sets tuition by determining the revenue that’s needed to balance the budget.

In a typical year, Town’s budget balances to zero, but, as you know, Town continues to navigate the residual effects of the pandemic, which brought enrollment from approximately 385 students to 320.

320 students is a healthy enrollment number for Town - for a vibrant Town - but, as with any school, it makes sense to align our staffing with the needs of the program. 

During the pandemic, Town’s Board made a conscious decision not to make changes in order to maintain as much continuity as possible during those challenging days.

Instead, we temporarily operated at a deficit and met this shortfall by investing in our school with funding from Town’s endowment. 

We were in a privileged position to be able to do that because of our strong financial position but now that we are through that period, it is appropriate to make changes that will enable us to invest in the new, exciting, programmatic initiatives, community partnerships and capital projects that Doug referred to in his remarks.

I want to emphasize that these changes are part of a normal budgeting process and reflect several years of careful analysis and planning. 

Some of you have asked whether these changes suggest that Town is facing financial challenges, or whether we should be concerned about the school’s future. In fact it is the opposite.

Town remains in an enviable financial position. The school has no debt, full ownership of our building and an almost 55 million dollar endowment. 

This financial strength provides us with the resources and flexibility to continually invest in our program while keeping tuition as low as possible.


In December, Doug sent a letter to you that outlined the programmatic and operational changes that will be implemented next year. 

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the personal impact that the changes we are making have on individuals that we care about and who have been such an important and meaningful part of our community. 

These decisions were very difficult, first and foremost for those immediately impacted, but also for all of us at Town who appreciate and care for them.

We are deeply grateful to all of the faculty and staff who have contributed so much to our school and community. 


I’d like to spend the next few minutes outlining Town’s revenue and expense structure. 

Let’s start with expenses for next year. As you can see, salaries and benefits for faculty and staff are by far our biggest expense. 

This is to be expected, as the most essential elements of our school are the faculty who deliver Town’s program and the staff who support the school’s operations. 

Competitive compensation is what helps us attract and retain the best faculty and staff and our students are direct beneficiaries of this investment.

Program and support includes everything from textbooks and professional development to technology and class trips, such as visits to the beloved Farm  and the 8th grade trip to Washington, DC.

Facilities include day to day maintenance and supplies for our wonderful building. 

Administrative costs include things like insurance, publications, office supplies, and events. 

And of course, Food service.

Income - Let me start here with the three smaller slices, to the left in this pie. 

First, the endowment provides an important source of ongoing support to fund operating expenses. 

Second, we have the essential contributions from Annual Giving and the Parents Association fundraising. 

Third, we have other income, including auxiliary programs, and a small amount of funds from NY State. 

What’s left to balance the budget is tuition, which makes up the largest share of revenue. 

As an additional step, we always make sure that Town’s tuition is in line with the competitive marketplace.

Here is our benchmarking with peer schools for the current school year. All of these numbers are substantial, but it is also clear that Town’s tuition is very competitive. 

We know that even with careful budgeting and Town’s continued attention to managing costs, expenses are rising. 

Indeed, tuition for all schools has risen more or less in line with salaries over the years.

So just as we as parents invest in a Town education, Town invests all of its resources into providing that education

As I mentioned before, the contracts for next year will reflect K-8th grade tuition of $60,200, up 4% from this year. 

I want to emphasize that the Board does not take lightly the significance of this investment for our families, and we take seriously the charge to manage tuition increases. 

The Board, in collaboration with Doug and his team, implement ongoing cost containment measures, but the endowment provides an important source of income, and is a meaningful part of Town’s overall financial picture. 


Our endowment is presently valued at nearly $55 million, surpassing the best practice recommendation of maintaining capital at least double the annual budget.

And Town’s endowment is thoughtfully invested. Oversight of these investments and planning for the use of funds are part of the Board’s governance and fiduciary responsibilities. 

In developing the budget, a percentage of the earnings from the endowment is applied to the budget to help fund operating expenses. 

For the 2024-2025 school year, the Board has allocated a 4.75% draw from the endowment earnings, which is within best practice for non-profits and the same percentage as the current school year. 

As I mentioned earlier, the budget for next year currently includes a modest deficit, but we are well on our way to achieving a balanced budget and expect that draws on the endowment in the next two years will be limited to normal levels. 

Preserving the spending power of Town’s endowment is an important fiduciary responsibility of the Board and is critical to our ability to invest in the school’s growth and excellence. 

It is also an important resource that allows us to keep tuition as affordable as possible. 

Careful oversight and management of the endowment will make it possible for future Town Boards and leadership teams to continue to invest in the school and have the resources necessary to meet any future challenges. 


I know that we have covered a lot of ground this morning, but I hope that you can see how excited Doug, Paula and I are about what lies ahead for Town and this remarkable community. 

Town's leadership, faculty, and staff have created a wonderful and truly unique experience for children in New York City. 

It is rooted in care and support, integrity and character, as well as productive struggle and the highest academic standards.

Our family experiences this on a daily basis. 

I know that Town is special when our daughter Harper comes home with a new found enthusiasm for origami after a lesson from Carlos, a veteran member of the Team in Blue. 

I know it is special when I witness the incredible determination, sportsmanship, and teamwork of the 5th-grade girls' basketball team or the coming together to celebrate packing meals at Rise Against Hunger. 

I know it is special when I am out at a Yankees game with a group of dads or when I am leaving a late night meeting with Trustees that are so committed to this school and making sure that we have the strongest possible program today and are always building for the future.

We are grateful to be part of a school that is actively shaping smart, confident, optimistic, and resilient young people and a community that champions generosity, kindness and compassion. 

What more could you ask for? 

Thank you.

And now I will turn it back over to Doug. 

Doug Brophy: Closing Remarks

Thank you, Jamie. And thank you, Jamie and Paula, for all of your leadership. And parents, thank you for all the ways that you entrust us with your children’s education and for your partnership in support. We will always hold these commitments dear.

We typically invite Q&A at parent gatherings. But this morning many of your children are waiting for you in the classrooms! So, reach out with any questions and I look forward to engaging all of your questions at our February 6 in-person PA meeting and at my early-March roundtable on zoom.

N-K through 4th grade parents, you can head up to your childrens’ classrooms now. 5th grade parents, the classes you are visiting begin at 9:10am, so you can wait a few minutes before heading to the second floor. 6th-8th grade parents, you are welcome to head to the library now for the Child Chat. 

Thank you all so much and have a good morning at Town!