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Great Barrington, MA

John Dewey Academy Seeks Not-For-Profit Status

Tom Bratter

June 4, 2006

To preserve its identity and integrity as a college preparatory, therapeutic and special purpose school that offers intensive, individualized instruction for 35 troubled teens whose self-destructive behavior requires a safe and structured residential environment, The John Dewey Academy (JDA) has applied for a not-for-profit status. JDA is accredited by the New England Schools & College Association.

The legal work for this change in status is being conducted by Debvoise & Plimpton, LLP and Wilmer Culter Pickering Hale and Dorr, LLP. Since both law firms are highly respected nationally, we believe JDA will experience few problems during the transition from propriety to the new not-for-profit status. The entity known as "New JDA, Inc." is now incorporated in the State of Delaware. There are five directors: Tom Bratter, President, Gardner Dunnan, PhD, Robert Kolodny, MD, Lisa Sinsheimer, MD and Phyllis Steinbrecher. This Board also has an advisory board and few changes are anticipated.

Tom Bratter, the president/ founder of JDA, will continue to head the school. Bratter is responsive to the diverse factions that comprise this unique school, and he will continue this practice, which includes an advisory board that is comprised of students, faculty and parents. It is probable that the student faculty relationship may rise from 2.5 to 1; but will not exceed single digits, which is the lowest of any special purpose school.

Located in Great Barrington, MA, Searles Castle was completed in the 1890's. The architect for Searles Castle was Stanford White of the renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White, which specialized in the construction of luxuriant ambience for extremely wealthy families. Searles Castle was built as a residence by Mary Sherwood Hopkins, widow of Mark Hopkins, one of the founders of the Central Pacific Railroad. The cost to build Searles Castle was $2,200,000 and it is listed in the Register of Historical Landmarks. Searles Castle may be sold and JDA will move to more manageable and modest quarters. Such a move will reduce operating costs and may permit expansion to 45 students.

"For many years we have contemplated how to best preserve the school, and the idea of changing JDA into a non-profit program is not a new idea, however, this time we are taking the necessary steps to make this idea a reality," Bratter explained. "We need to raise $10,000,000, and I am confident that we can accomplish this goal. Many families know that if their adolescent had not attended JDA, they would be institutionalized or incarcerated, if lucky. If unlucky, they could be dead! Today more than three-quarters of JDA graduates are enrolled in college, or graduates of prestigious institutions of higher learning. More than a third not only make the dean's list but also attend graduate schools. Bratter said, "there is no other special purpose school or residential treatment center that comes close to matching this awesome record of success. It would be tragic indeed, if this miraculous school did not survive my demise, which is why I favor seeking not-for-profit status.

We have pledges of $500,000 from alumni, not parents, so there is some momentum! A few families have the financial resources to contribute millions to this worthwhile venture, but the question is whether these super wealthy parents will show their appreciation and remember The John Dewey Academy in our desperate time of need. Some families may wait until we receive the 503 (c) 1 status, which makes their gift deductible. We hope to be granted tax free status by August, so this question will be answered soon."

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