In his 1937 book, America's 60 Families, Ferdinand Lundberg indicated how the U.S. power elite and Super-Rich folks funded their undemocratic private prep school system prior to by 1940, by writing the following:
"...The rich in general reserve their heaviest contributions for a small group of institutions in the East...The preparatory schools that feed these favored colleges and universities are themselves located in and around New England. They, too, are the recipients of huge sums, although their benefactors are not otherwise visibly interested in the broad field of secondary education...
"Phillips-Exeter has received large sums in addition to the $7,000,000 Harkness gave for its house plan, which prepares students for easy living at Yale and Harvard. William Boyce Thompson presented it with $1,000,000 for a gymnasium. Thomas W. Lamont and...Thomas Cochran of J.P. Morgan and Company both gave it large sums and helped it and Phillips-Andover to raise funds among other wealthy men...
"Both Phillips-Exeter and Phillips-Andover have separate endowments of $6,000,000 [equivalent to over $103,000,000 in 2017 dollars] each, greater than those of institutions like the University of Alabama, Beloit College, the University of Buffalo, Carleton College, Colby College, Colorado College, Cornell College (Ia.), Creighton University, Denison University, University of Denver, Depauw University, University of Idaho, Kenyon College, Knox College, Ohio Wesleyan, Wabash College, Wittenberg College, or the College of Wooster.
"In short,...money is lavished on a few Eastern preparatory schools...The private peparatory schools, moreover, have a class function only; they do not fill a genuine need, for the public high-school system is extensive.
"Andover and Exeter are only two of the Eastern preparatory schools patronized by the rich families. Groton has an endowment of $1,500,000 [equivalent to over $25,000,000 in 2017 dollars]; Lawrenceville, $500,000 [equivalent to over $8,600,000 in 2017 dollars]; St. Mark's, $600,000 [equivalent to over $10,300,000 in 2017 dollars]; Taft, $500,000; and St. Paul's, $3,059,018 [equivalent to over $52,000,000 in 2017 dollars]. Andrew W. Mellon gave Choate School a library and the Archbold family fave an infirmary; Clarence Dillon, banker, gave Groton an auditorium, William A. Gardner gave a $500,000 chapel, while various large gifts were also made by...Payne Whitney; Edward S. Harkness contributed to the Hill School endowment of $2,340,187 [equivalent to over $40,000,000 in 2017 dollars], as did...T.Coleman du Pont; Charles G. Dawes, Lammot du Pont, and Mortimer B. Fuller (International Salt) made big gifts to Lawrenceville; Paul Block gave a chapel to Hotchkiss School, whose endowment is $400,000 [equivalent to over $6,800,000 in 2017 dollars]. Middlesex School was founded by W.Cameron Forbes, Henry Lee Higginson, Francis Lowell, and Dean Briggs of Harvard, all of whom gave it money and buildings. The Armour family and August Belmont contributed to St. Mark's. James Simpson of Marshall Field and Company and H.E. Manville contributed to St. Paul's. Benefactors of the Taft School have been Mrs. William Rockefeller, who gave Rockefeller Field, Edward S. Harkness, who gave $500,000, and Harry P. Bingham, who gave Bingham Auditorium.
"This is only part of the story, for there are also the Eastern girls' `finishing schools.' These expensive and strictly upper-class institutions, where the tuition fee ranges from $1,000 to $3,000 [equivalent to $17,245 to over $51,000 in 2017 dollars), include Foxcroft, Brearley, Miss Chapin's, Spence School, Rosemary Hall, Ethel Walker's, Farmington, Westover, Miss Hall's, and Dobbs School..."
Friday, June 23, 2017
Sunday, March 12, 2017
According to a pamphlet posted on the Town of Brookline Assessor’s website, private schools in Massachusetts “MAY QUALIFY for an exemption from local taxes on real and personal property they own,” but “ownership DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY ENTITLE AN ORGANIZATION TO AN EXEMPTION, HOWEVER.” The same pamphlet also notes that “exemption from taxation is A PRIVILEGE and the organization must prove clearly and unequivocally that it qualifies.”
In the 21st-century, the “privilege” of exemption from taxation is granted to Brookline’s “non-profit” private schools like Dexter Southfield, the Park School and the Beaver Country Day School (which is located in Brookline’s Chestnut Hill neighborhood).
According to data from an Exempt Property Record Card that’s posted on the Brookline Assessor’s website, the valuation of Beaver Country Day School Inc.’s property at 791 Hammond Street, for example, increased from $24,511,800 in 2007 to $36,076,900 in 2016. Yet its Fiscal Year 2017 Real Estate tax bill is zero dollars, while the total tax bill for the owner of 764 Hammond Street (with a valuation of $1,474,200 in 2016) is $13,316 in 2017. In addition, although the valuation of the currently vacant parcel of property the private school also owns at 791 Woodland Road increased from $1,250,500 to $1,567,000 between 2007 and 2016, Beaver Country will also pay zero dollars in taxes to the Town of Brookline on this piece of real estate in 2017.
Elsewhere on Woodland Road, the tax bill for the owner of 320 Woodland Road (with a valuation of $1,782,000 in 2016) is $15,337 in 2017. Yet in 2017, Beaver Country will pay zero dollars in property taxes to Brookline on the house and real estate it owns at 333 Woodland Road (although the valuation of this property increased from $1,144,400 to $2,064,800 between 2007 and 2016).
But if Beaver Country were taxed at the same rate as most Brookline property owners who do not benefit from the same tax exemption privilege are taxed, Brookline would be requiring this private school to pay around $389,000 in taxes on its real estate. In addition, if Dexter Southfield were not benefiting from a tax exemption privilege, it would be billed for around $767,000 in taxes; and the tax payment of Park School would be around $487,000, if it were not also exempt from taxes.
Around $1,643,000 in additional tax revenue to use for things like helping to fund Brookline’s public school system could, thus, be obtained from these three “non-profit” Brookline private schools alone, if their tax exemption privileges were taken away by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Town of Brookline.
The Beaver Country Day School Inc.’s private school first opened in 1921 as a school for 65 students at Boylston Street and Buckminster Road, on the leased Jonathan White estate. But on Sept. 28, 1921 it also purchased for $13,640 the 17-acre wooded campus site at the corner of Hammond Street and Woodland Road in Brookline’s Chestnut Hill section that its school currently occupies.
Around $1 million was then spent to construct buildings for the school (which was then a 4th to 8th grade school for female and male pupils and a 9th to 12th grade secondary school for only female students) on its newly acquired Brookline property; and by 1930 the construction project on Beaver Country’s campus was completed. The additional parcel of vacant land at 791 Woodland Road, whose value is now assessed to be $1,567,000, was then purchased on Dec. 29, 1932 for $100.
By 1945, the number of students enrolled at Beaver Country had increased to 300 students; and on June 2, 1961 the house that the private school currently owns at 333 Woodland Road, whose value is now assessed to be $2,064,800, was purchased by Beaver Country Day School Inc. for $100.
After 1970, Beaver Country began admitting male students into its 9th to 12th grade secondary school that previously only admitted female students. And today, the school is a co-educational private day school that enrolls around 470 students from 6th grade to 12th grade: 30 students in 6th grade; 50 students in 7th grade; 50 students in 8th grade, 85 students in 9th grade; 85 students in 10th grade; 85 students in 11th grade; and 85 students in 12th grade.
The parents of most students enrolled at Beaver Country were required to pay $45,500 in tuition to the private school for the 2016-2017 academic year; and between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, Beaver Country Day School Inc.’s total revenues of $28,149,811 exceeded its total expenses of $24,728,469 by $3,431,342, according to its Form 990 financial filing for 2014. In addition, the net assets of Beaver Country increased by $2,768,587—from $22,813,093 to $25,571,680—during the same period.
Nearly $13 million of the over $28 million that Beaver Country collected in revenues between July 2014 and June 2015 was spent on salaries for its 413 employees, according to its financial filing. The private school’s “Head of School,” Peter Hutton, for example, was paid an annual “reportable compensation” of $405,527 and “other compensation” of $102,047 (which apparently included the annual monetary value of being provided with the Beaver Country-owned house at 333 Woodland Road in which he lived), according to the same financial filing. In addition, between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, Beaver Country paid $2,166,465 to RAD Sports of Rockland, Massachusetts for “Turf.”
Although the value of Beaver Country’s endowment fund only increased from $11,647,966 to $11,674,659 between July 2014 and June 2015, the school earned an investment income of $1,160,639, including the $736,000 that it gained from the sale of $5,809,352 worth of securities. As of June 30, 2015, over $3 million of Beaver Country’s endowment was still invested in an off-shore Cayman Islands-Based Hedge Fund Investment; but, as its financial filing noted, “private foreign investment co. rules do not apply to tax exempt organizations,” and zero in federal income taxes were paid between 2014 and 2015.
Over $8 million of endowment funds were also invested in Equity mutual funds and fixed income funds. Yet on Feb. 1, 2013 the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency still issued $15,282,914 in tax exempt bonds to help “refinance” Beaver Country’s private school debt.
Part of this debt may have been generated from cost of building a visual and performing arts facility on its Brookline campus in early 21st-century. Beaver Country’s administration apparently used cheaper non-unionized workers to build this visual and performing arts facility, rather than unionized workers. As Lawrence Fahey noted in a July 17, 2003 Brookline Tab article, then-New England Council of Carpenters administrator Mark Erlich “said his organization” had “been in contact with Beaver Country Day School’s administrators since winter 2002, when bids for the project were being accepted;” but though it “urged the school to use a union company, Beaver selected the only non-union bid submitted.”
Although Beaver Country pays zero in property taxes, according to an Apr. 9, 1998 Tab article by Jeremy Pawloski, in the late 1990’s, “Beaver Country Day School’s two soccer fields” were “used by the town in the fall and spring, and its baseball diamond is used from April to June.” Yet in 2017 a community benefit like establishing a free tuition and/or open admissions policy for all 6th to 12th graders whose parents are Brookline residents, , for example, has still not been provided by the school’s board of trustees.
The Beaver Country Day School Inc.’s board of trustees which “plays a central role in overseeing the school’s operations and in planning Beaver’s future,” according to the school’s website, has apparently not been an “eager beaver” about using its annual revenue surplus to help fund Brookline’s public school system. Nor has the school’s board apparently been an “eager beaver” to pay property taxes at the same rate as the neighboring homeowners who also own real estate on Hammond Street.
One reason might be that, instead of including members of Brookline’s democratically-elected School Committee on its board of trustees, Beaver Country’s board includes some well-heeled folks associated with external organizations whose priorities do not include helping to fund public grade or secondary schools in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or providing community benefits to Brookline.
Boston-based Archipelago Ventures Ltd. private investment/speculation firm founder, Tomes Bergstrand, for example, is president of Beaver Country’s board of trustees. Another member of Beaver Country’s board of trustees, Charles Argyle, is Global Equities Portfolio Manager at Wellington Management stock investment/speculation firm (that speculates with and manages $929 billion in assets of its 2,150 clients from 13 offices around the globe, including its Boston headquarters office at 280 Congress Street, according to the Wellington Management website).
Westfield Capital Management CEO, President and Chief Investment Officer William Muggia is also a Beaver Country trustee. His speculation/investment firm “provides investment management service to institutional and high net-worth investors” like Clark University; and it speculates with/manages over $12 billion in assets from its office at One Financial Center in Boston, according to Westfield Capital Management’s website. Another Beaver Country trustee, Steven Kaitz is a Co-CEO of New England’s largest independent supplier of building materials, the National Lumber Company, which does business in the Town of Newton on Needham Street.
Besides sitting on the private school’s board of trustees, Beaver Country Trustee Paula Price (a former Chief Financial Officer at Stop & Shop’s Ahold USA parent company) has also been sitting on the corporate boards of Dollar General Corporation, Financial Guaranty Insurance Company, Western Digital Corporation, Accenture PLC and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, as well as on the Museum of Fine Arts board, in recent years.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation board member Josh Kraft, coincidentally, sits next to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts board member Price on Beaver Country’s board. Like his brother, Massachusetts General Hospital Trustee and Kraft Group President Jonathan Kraft (who’s also a trustee of Brookline’s Dexter Southfield private school), Beaver Country Trustee Josh Kraft is the son of Robert Kraft: the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots who also owns a stake in the Ultimate Fighting Championship [UFC] mixed martial arts promotion company—and whose personal wealth was estimated to be $5.2 billion in 2016 by Forbes magazine.
Within his family’s Kraft Group business, Josh Kraft holds position of president of New England Patriots Charitable Foundation—which collected $3,695,431 in contributions (including 116 separate contributions from individuals, corporations or family foundations that exceeded $5,000), earned $326,035 more in revenues than it spent, paid only $1,147 in state and federal taxes and made only one grant of $1,000 to a Brookline-based organization in 2015, according to its Form 990 financial filing for 2015.
Another Beaver Country trustee, David Fubrini, also is a trustee of both University of Massachusetts and MITRE research/development organization, which received $281 million in Pentagon contracts in 2014; making MITRE the 6th-largest recipient of Pentagon contracts in Massachusetts in that year. Coincidentally, Retired U.S. Navy Admiral Edmund Giambastiani Jr., Retired U.S. Air Force General C. Robert Kehler and Retired General Montgomery Meigs also sit on MITRE’s board of trustees; and also, coincidentally, Beaver Country Trustee Fubrini is past chair of the board of trustees of Brookline’s Park School private grade school.
Working-class and middle-class residents of Brookline may not be able to create enough political pressure in Massachusetts to require “non-profit” tax-exempt private schools like Dexter Southfield, Park School and Beaver Country to pay a fair share of local property taxes in 2017. But perhaps more needed funding for Brookline’s public school system could be obtained in 2017 if Massachusetts began taxing more heavily the external organizations in which trustees or directors of Brookline’s private school system currently hold executive or board member positions?
Monday, March 6, 2017
At a March 19, 1998 meeting of the Brookline School Committee, Brookline’s Dexter Southfield private school—which was then called Dexter School—received approval for its proposal to expand its ninth-grade program at that time. A 1982 state law had required that local school committees in Massachusetts vote to approve the kind of program expansion that this private school was proposing.
But at this same March 19, 1998 meeting, then-Brookline School Committee member Helen Charlupski said, according to an April 2, 1998 Brookline Tab article by Jeremy Pawloski, that the Newton Street private school officials “have wonderful facilities, but they don’t share them with the town” and “there’s a frustration with non-profits who do not see any responsibility to towns in which they live.” The then-School Committee chairperson, Terry Kwan, also observed that “this institution has been very recalcitrant about payment in lieu of taxes to the town of Brookline.”
The same 1998 article noted that in 1997 then-Brookline Selectwoman Donna Kalikow and other town officials had met with Dexter private school officials “in a fruitless effort to secure community benefits for the town;” and that “an example of Dexter’s lack of community involvement” was “the school’s failure to allow the town to use its” then-new “indoor ice-skating rink at reduced prices.”
Yet Dexter Southfield may not be the only tax-exempt private school in Brookline that has not, historically, provided either enough “payment in lieu of taxes to the Town of Brookline” (to, for example, help fund Brookline’s underfunded public school system) or enough “community benefits for the town.”
According to the Town of Brookline 1969 Tax Lists, a daughter of Lammot Du Pont, Mary Du Pont Faulkner, apparently was assessed $15,043 in taxes on the property she still owned in the 1960’s at 235 and 255 Goddard Avenue. But in 2016 the “non-profit” Park School Corporation paid zero dollars in taxes on its private grade school campus property at 171 Goddard Avenue, according to the data from an Exempt Property Record Card that’s posted on the Town of Brookline Assessor’s website. Yet between 2007 and 2016 the assessed valuation of the Park School Corporation’s day school campus property increased from $25,906,000 to $49,764,900.
As Jeremy Pawloski noted in an April 19, 1998 Tab article, “though they use town amenities, including police, fire and other municipal services, for free,” Massachusetts’ constitution exempts private schools from paying property taxes. Yet Pawloski also reported in the same 1998 article that “in Brookline…the town has encouraged many local tax-exempt properties to make `payments in lieu of taxes’,” but, according to then-Deputy Town Administrator Brian Sullivan, “unfortunately for the town,” in 1998 “efforts to receive cash donations for services” had “all but fallen flat.”
First located in Brookline on Walnut Street when it was established (under a different name) in 1888 and following the Park School Corporation’s formation in 1923, the Park School was located in the 1960’s on 3.6 acres of land at Kennard and Hedges Road (where the Brookline public school system’s Lincoln grade school is now located).
But the Park School’s board of trustees, which then included a grandson of Lammot Du Pont and a son of Mary Du Pont Faulkner—Kim Faulkner—as one of its trustees, in the late 1960’s “concluded that” its private school’s Kennard Road “site and facilities were simply inadequate and that a new site should be acquired as soon as possible,” according to the Park School Corporation 2007 Spring Bulletin.
So, coincidentally, Park School Trustee Faulkner’s mother (who was born into an extended family that was described by Louis Rukeyser’s Business Almanac as “the wealthiest and most powerful dynasty in the United States” in 1991, “with a family fortune of over $8.6 billion” at that time) then “gave Park the incredibly generous gift of 14 acres of woods and fields on Goddard Avenue;” and “ground was broken in December 1969 to build the `new’ Park School,” according to the same 2007 Spring Bulletin. The donor of “the incredibly generous gift” received by the Park School, had previously inherited $250 million from her late father, Lammot Du Pont (who died in 1952), according to Gerard Colby’s Du Pont Dynasty book.
In September 1971, the Park School then opened on 14 acres of its current 34-acre campus, just across the street from Larz Anderson Park (but on a different side of the park than Dexter Southfield’s campus); and the additional 20 acres of its Brookline campus were acquired when Mary Du Pont Faulkner donated 10 more acres of her Goddard Avenue property to the tax-exempt private school in 1980, and her son and daughter-in-law gave the Park School a first option to eventually buy the last 10 acres of the day school’s campus.
In recent years, around 540 grade school students have been enrolled in Brookline’s Park School private school and nearly 5,500 grade school students have been enrolled Brookline’s public schools. But although it paid less than $101 for the initial 14 acres of its Brookline campus that it received as a gift, the Park School has apparently not been eager to establish an open admissions and free tuition policy for all grade school age children of Brookline residents, whose parents might wish to enroll them at the Park School (where the average class size has been 14 students in recent years).
Instead, the “non-profit” Park School is requiring most of the parents whose children are enrolled there to pay $32,490 for a first and second-grade classroom seat, $33,890 for a third, fourth and fifth-grade classroom seat and $38,750 for a sixth, seventh and eighth-grade classroom seat during the 2016-2017 academic year.
Like Brookline’s Dexter Southfield private school, the Park School also claims to be a “non-profit” educational operation. Yet according to the Park School Corporation’s Form 990 financial filing for 2014, between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, the Park School’s total revenues of $33,704,139 exceeded its total expenses of $25,014,673 by $8,689,466; and its net assets increased from $63.5 million to $65.7 million during the same period. In addition, the value of the tax-exempt Park School’s endowment increased from $43.8 million to $48.4 million between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.
The same Form 990 financial filing also indicated that between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, the Park School paid both an annual base salary/total annual compensation of $145,335 to former Head of School Jerry Katz and an annual base salary of $248,895/total annual compensation of $411,840 to its then-Head of School Michael Robinson. In addition, tax-exempt bonds of $9,435,000 on February 21, 2007 and $14,025,500 on April 1, 2012 were issued by the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency to apparently finance and refinance private school building construction costs, according to the same 2014 Form 990 financial filing.
The Park School’s board of trustees may still not be too interested in paying more property taxes or payment in lieu of taxes to help the Town of Brookline fund its public school system (which requires around $108 million each year to operate); or in providing more community benefits (such as, for example, open admissions and free tuition for all children of Brookline residents). One reason might be because some of the wealthy folks on its board of trustees have perhaps been more interested in apparently using hedge fund money to speculate and attempt to profit from for-profit U.S. health industry firm stock ownership, searching for lucrative real estate development deals, sitting on U.S. federal court judicial benches or filling high Massachusetts state government agency posts?
Park School Trustee Conan Laughlin, for example, manages North Tide Capital (a $2.9 billion hedge fund firm whose offices are located at 500 Boylston Street in Boston), which apparently makes 88 percent of its speculative investments in for-profit health care industry corporations like the following: Select Medical Holding Corporation (in which it owned $163 million worth of stock in September 2016); the Tivity Health Inc./Healthways fitness centers industry firm (on whose corporate board Laughlin also sits); and the Community Health Systems chain of 158 for-profit hospitals in 22 states (in which North Tide Capital owned $34.1 million worth of stock in September 2016).
Coincidentally, a 2015 study revealed that 7 of the 10 hospitals in the United States which charged their uninsured patients the highest medical costs above what Medicare allowed in 2012 were for-profit hospitals owned, operate or leased by Community Health Systems [CHS]’s hospital chain affiliates. And according to a May 18, 2016 National Nurses United [NNU] labor union press release, “CHS has engaged in rampant and serious unfair labor practices at their hospitals, including terminating Registered Nurses [RN] leaders in a wide scale attempt to weaken support for the union and forestall reaching initial collective bargaining agreements.”
Another Park School trustee, Seth Brennan, is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Lincoln Peak Capital: a speculation/investment firm (with offices at 177 Huntington Avenue in Boston) that is “focused exclusively on investing in asset management firms” and which “currently has minority equity investments in five asset management firms which collectively manage over $55 billion in assets,” according to Lincoln Peak Capital’s website. In addition, Brennan also sits on Artisan Partners Asset Management’s corporate board and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s board of overseers.
The founder of the Corbelis residential land development/dealmaking firm and the Henley USA Head, Garrett Solomon, is also a Park School trustee. According to the London-based Henley private equity real estate investment/dealmaking firm’s website, in 2015 Henley “launched its first USA business” which “was underpinned with the announcement of Henley USA headed by Garrett Solomon and his team from Corbelis in Boston;” and it “has an active pipeline of deals” and “is aiming to have a business the same size as its European operation within short order,” where “total equity invested per deal currently range from $5 million to $150 million.”
Other members of the Park School’s board of trustees in recent years have included: the for-profit New Century Health CEO Atul Dhir; U.S. Federal Court Judge Denise Jefferson-Casper; and the current Undersecretary and Chief Operating Officer of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Stephanie Neal-Johnson. In addition, Boston Public Library Trustee Laura De Bonis, a former Director of Library Partnerships for Google Book Service, has also sat on the Park School’s board of trustees in recent years.
Perhaps the time has come, however, for more local community-elected Brookline School Committee members and local Town officials to now be included on the board of trustees of “non-profit” Brookline private schools like the Park School (instead of top executives and officials of external for-profit corporations or state and federal external organizations)--in order to increase likelihood that Brookline’s private schools begin serving the local community’s public interest more in Brookline on their privately-controlled campus sites?
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
During the 2015-2016 school year, around 8,000 students were enrolled in Brookline’s public schools. In Brookline High School, for example, around 1,800 students were enrolled in 2015-2016; and it’s anticipated that by 2023 Brookline’s public school system will need to find enough public high school classroom seats for 2,600 enrolled public high school students.
Brookline’s public school students, however, are not the only elementary, junior high school or high school age students enrolled in a school in Brookline. At 20 Newton Street, on a 36-acre campus hilltop estate, opposite Larz Anderson Park and the Antique Auto Museum, around 825 students are enrolled, for example, at a “non-profit” private school called Dexter Southfield, whose entrance is located on St. Paul’s Avenue off Newton Street.
In 1966 the then all-male Dexter School purchased its 36-acre Newton Street property for $520,000 and soon began constructing a Brookline campus containing 69 classrooms in four buildings, athletic facilities and art studios. In addition, Dexter Southfield also has a Rowing Center, located on the Charles River, just 4 miles away in Dedham.
According to the Exempt Property Record Card data for 20 Newton Street, that’s posted on the Town of Brookline Assessor’s Office website, the valuation of Dexter Southfield’s Brookline real estate increased from $37.2 million in fiscal year 2007 to $78.3 million in fiscal year 2017, yet its fiscal year 2017 town real estate tax payment bill was zero dollars. In addition, according to its Form 990 financial filing for 2014-2015, the value of the “non-profit” Dexter Southfield private school’s endowment fund on June 30, 2015 was over $30 million.
An “Upper School” secondary school was not established on Dexter Southfield’s Brookline campus until 2002, when the school was still called the Dexter School; and following its merger with the Southfield private all-female day school in 2013, the name of the private school was changed to Dexter Southfield. Despite this 2013 merger, however, according to Dexter Southfield’s website, “the school will always operate under”” a “core belief that boys and girls benefit from distinct paths of learning;” and except for some selected special advanced high school level classes, all pre-8th grade classes and most secondary school classes apparently don’t include both male and female students in the same classroom. Dexter Southfield’s website also notes that “transportation to and from the School” for its students “is provided by our fleet of faculty-driven school buses from central locations throughout Greater Boston, Metro West, and the South Shore.”
The Town of Brookline doesn’t charge an admissions fee for any Dexter Southfield private school student, parent, teacher or administrator who might wish to play across the street in Brookline’s Larz Anderson Park on weekdays or weekends. But Brookline parents in the neighborhood whose sons or daughters were accepted for admission to Dexter Southfield’s campus were generally required to cough up a tuition fee of $43,175 for a 6th, 7th or 8th grader and $46,670 for a 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grader, in order for their child to be allowed to enter the Dexter Southfield classrooms during the 2016-2017 school year.
Among the special educational advantages provided the 825 private school students enrolled at Dexter Southfield is that only 14 other students are generally sitting in each class that a student takes. So, presumably, each classroom teacher can provide more special attention and personal instruction to individual Dexter Southfield private school students than what a Brookline public school student might receive in most Brookline public school classrooms, where the average class size is 21 students, rather than 15, like it is in Dexter Southfield.
The Dexter Southfield private school claims in its Form 990 financial filing for 2014-2015 to be non-discriminatory in its admissions policy. Yet its website indicates that only 15 percent of its students are “students of color;” and, as late as the 2013-2014 school year, The Handbook of Private Schools indicated that only 2 percent of Dexter Southfield’s male students were African-American in racial background.
Not surprisingly, Dexter Southfield is governed by a board of trustees whose members include folks with business, professional or family links to corporations, Wall Street investment banks, corporate law firms and various tax-exempt “non-profit” institutions that might be considered economically exploitative by some of Brookline’s 21st-century working-class and middle-class residents.
K & L Gates corporate law firm partner William Shaw McDermott, for example, has been the president of Dexter Southfield’s board of trustees since 1991; and according to the website of K & L Gates, the law firm’s corporate clients include The Goldman Sachs Group, Halliburton, Microsoft, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Starbuck’s, Duke Energy, E.I. DuPont du Nemours, United Technologies, Honeywell, Viacom, CBS, One Lincoln Street Boston, John Hancock Financial and Education Management Corporation. McDermott also is a member of the Harvard School of Public Health Leadership Council and has been a trustee of Deaconess Hospital or overseer of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital since 1990.
Despite being the board of trustees president of a private school located in Brookline, however, K & L Gates Partner McDermott has apparently been less interested in establishing an open admissions and free tuition policy at the Dexter Southfield secondary school, for all high school students whose families reside in Brookline that wish to attend his school, than in being involved in Dedham, Massachusetts town politics. Since 2005, McDermott has, for example, been the president of the Citizens for Dedham Neighborhood Alliance; and he also is both a Dedham, Massachusetts Town Meeting Member and the co-chairman of Dedham’s Master Plan Committee.
Other members of the Dexter Southfield board of trustees include: former Managing Director of The Goldman Sachs Group Scott Barringer; Thomas H. Lee Partners investment/stock-speculation firm Co-Chair and Dunkin Brands/Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins corporate board member Anthony Di Novi; and Welch & Forbes LLC Chief Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager Charles Thorndike Haydock.
Kraft Group President Jonathan Kraft—the son of the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots who also owns a stake in the Ultimate Fighting Championship [UFC] mixed martial arts promotion company, Robert Kraft—is also, coincidentally, a member of Dexter Southfield’s board of trustees. Besides sitting on Dexter Southfield’s governing board, Jonathan Kraft (whose father’s personal wealth was estimated to be $5.2 billion in 2016 by Forbes magazine) also is a Massachusetts General Hospital [MGH] trustee who chairs the MGH board of trustees’ Finance Committee, a member of Harvard Business School’s Board of Dean’s Advisers, the Williams College Investment Committee’s Chair and a Williams College Trustee Emeritus, and a trustee of another private school, the Belmont Hill School.
The tax-exempt Dexter Southfield private school in Brookline claims to be “non-profit.” But according to its Form 990 financial filing for 2014-2015 between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, Dexter Southfield’s total revenue of $36,077,974 exceeded the school’s total expenses of $32,783,379 by $3,294,595; and the value of the school’s total net assets increased from $24.5 to $24.8 million. Yet the tax-exempt Dexter Southfield private school paid zero dollars in U.S. federal income tax during the same period (although it has also apparently benefited from millions of dollars in Massachusetts Development Financing Agency-issued tax-exempt bonds financing in 21st-century).
The $36 million that Dexter Southfield collected included over $29.5 million from tuition and fee payments from families of enrolled students, over $2.4 million from grant contributions and $2.2 million from stocks and bonds portfolio investment income.
Over $16 million of the $36 million that Dexter Southfield earned from its “non-profit” private school operation was used to pay salaries of Dexter Southfield’s 105 employees. Between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015, for example, Head of School Todd Vincent was paid a total annual compensation of $331,664, including an annual base salary of $284, 652, by the Brookline private school (while the annual base salary of the Superintendent of Brookline’s public school system is apparently just $170,115). The Head of School’s wife was also employed by Dexter Southfield and paid an annual salary of $62,500; and according to its Form 990 financial filing for 2014 “Head of School Todd Vincent lives in campus housing provided by the school.”
In recent months, there has been much discussion in Brookline about whether or not public tax money should be diverted from unionized non-charter public schools in Massachusetts in order to create more, generally non-unionized, publicly-funded charter schools in the Commonwealth; and about whether or not a new public school building in Brookline should be constructed for $95 million on the 2.7 acre Baldwin School land site on Heath Street.
Yet until the well-heeled folks who control Massachusetts private schools like Dexter Southfield are politically pressured to help fund Brookline’s public school system more and to prioritize serving community educational needs—by perhaps enrolling for free more working-class and middle-class students whose parents live in Brookline and sharing land space on its 36-acre campus with Brookline’s public school system—students in under-funded and overcrowded Brookline public schools may be in danger of not receiving, during the next 8 years, the same schooling advantages received by Dexter Southfield students.