Torah Day School, the Orthodox pre-K–8th grade Jewish day school in Seattle’s South End, will welcome the 2013-14 school year in a new space on Beacon Hill.
This is the third building for the school in its seven years of existence. The prior space, a school building in Columbia City, was rented to TDS on a three-year lease that expired this year. The Seattle Public School system will be re-commissioning it as a middle school this fall.
The new space is a former Presbyterian church on Beacon Hill undergoing structural and cosmetic upgrades to meet the school’s needs. Torah Day School administrators have signed a 10-year lease with an option to purchase the property.
“We looked at it creatively and said, ‘You can make a school out of this,’” said Ezra Genauer, chair of the building committee. “It’s a very nice piece of property.”
Other changes are afoot at the school, which is in the process of searching for a new head of school following the recent departure of Rabbi Sheftel Skaist.
Genauer is excited about the increased outdoor space and campus feel. While the school has no immediate plans yet to purchase the property, which is valued at approximately $4 million, he is hopeful the space will become permanent.
“The future potential was something attractive about this piece of property,” he said. “It just depends. We have not really put the pieces together yet to launch that kind of campaign. We’re focused on the short term.”
The short term has involved about $700,000 in upgrades, including a new sprinkler system and bathroom updates to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Rooms were reconfigured and the sanctuary was converted into a multipurpose gym/auditorium. Water damage meant new floors and a new roof. An alarm system was installed and the lights were updated.
The Samis Foundation, which funds Jewish education initiatives in the area, is matching $300,000 raised by TDS. Most of the money has been raised through individual donors; according to Genauer, time was too limited to conduct a full-scale building campaign.
“We owe gratitude to Samis,” said TDS board president Binyomin Edelstone.
“We had to scramble a little bit, and given our requirements it’s not like there are many options,” he added. “It was important to stay close to Seward Park where most of our families are.”
Now they’re just waiting for the city permits to come through. Edelstone said the plan is to open the doors on schedule, on August 28, to the approximately 130 students enrolled.