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April 30, 2020
Dear Pingry Families,
I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirit during this time of historic challenge—for our families, our communities, and, indeed, our world.
Over the past few weeks, among the many initiatives undertaken by the School to address the rapidly changing environment, we have engaged in financial forecasting to try to understand, to the extent possible, the potential effects of COVID-19 on our operations and our programs, including, importantly, our dedicated faculty and staff. It may come as little surprise that, given the severity of the economic disruption worldwide and the sheer uncertainty of the situation going forward, independent schools, including Pingry, are expected to be significantly impacted.
Already, we have seen a notable loss of auxiliary program revenue—from facility rentals to enrichment to summer camp—and a substantial decline in the value of the School's investments. We fully expect a significant increase in operating expenses, including an increased demand for need-based financial aid. These challenges will present a very real impact on our community in the coming months, and even years.
Our dedicated faculty and staff have gone to great lengths to provide our students with a successful, robust remote learning program. As they are the essence, the backbone, of our community, despite the negative impacts described above, we owe it to them to explore every possible measure to ensure their employment during this time of great uncertainty. Consequently, the Board of Trustees and I were pleased to learn that, like many independent schools across the country, Pingry qualifies for support under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from the Small Business Administration, intended to protect employment. Pingry applied for and was offered this loan, and, after careful consideration, decided earlier this month to accept it. This loan will, without question, protect Pingry jobs.
You may have read about the PPP program in recent weeks, including in a New York Times article that appeared online yesterday, citing Pingry, among other independent schools, as participating in it. The article also quotes a spokesperson from the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), who addresses reasons why this program is important, even for schools like ours that have an endowment.
Thanks to generations of generous charitable giving by our community, Pingry is fortunate to have an endowment. However, these funds are not freely available for us to draw upon on-demand like a savings account. While a portion of our endowment already supports our operating budget every year, and will be needed to help cover the unexpected and incremental costs and revenue shortfalls that are likely to result from this pandemic, the majority of the endowment funds are subject to legal restrictions that limit how and what they can be used for. In Pingry’s case, the largest portion by far is dedicated to supporting need-based financial aid.
As the Small Business Administration shares additional information about the PPP, we will continue to ensure that we adhere to both the guidelines and spirit of the program. In the meantime, we are grateful to have qualified for the loan, and we appreciate that it will provide continuity and reassurance to our faculty and staff during a tenuous time.
Thank you for your ongoing support as we seek to diligently monitor and plan for the ongoing financial health and stability of our school.
Jeffrey N. Edwards ’78, P ’12, ’14, ’18
Chair of the Board of Trustees