Many of you have inquired over the last three years about our evolving relationship with Parish Episcopal School (“PES”). Many of us on the Vestry have been blessed with opportunity to discuss matters with you on a one-on-one basis, but we have not yet published a comprehensive piece that lets the parish know what we have done, why we have done it, and where we are going.
The first step of our restructuring process initiated due to outside forces. PES must undergo certain reaccreditation processes periodically to ensure high operating standards and to demonstrate adherence to best practices of a larger community of private educational institutions. One of the results of that process was a recommendation that PES should be accountable to its Board of Trustees, as opposed to the Vestry of Transfiguration. That suggestion was prompted by the reality that PES was no longer an auxiliary parish day school, but rather a top-flight, premier educational institution on two campuses with a budget of 25 million dollars.
Accordingly, in 2012, Transfiguration and PES undertook a corporate restructuring of PES and Transfiguration’s role with PES that was designed to afford PES governance autonomy while maintaining its Episcopal heritage and its connection with Transfiguration. This culminated in amendments to PES’s Articles of Incorporation and its Bylaws. Transfiguration gave up its “ownership” rights over PES, who now owns and controls its own institution. However, both sides provided strong institutional ties that would bind us together. PES continues to have a percentage of its Board of Trustees who are Transfiguration members. Our Rector serves on PES’ Board. Key leadership of our parish will participate in any search by PES for its Head of School, in the event of a vacancy. Our Rector assists in PES’ selection of a chaplain. And, importantly, PES will forever maintain its core Episcopal identity and continue to educate its students through an Episcopal faith-based process. Much of the credit for this work belongs to Stephen Kahl (then-Senior Warden), Philip de Bruyn (PES Board Chairman and Fig member), and Jay Madrid (Chancellor to both institutions).
While a wonderful acknowledgement of PES’ growth and excellence, this corporate restructuring required us to analyze the use of the Hillcrest facilities by PES. Previously, a committee of PES and Fig leaders formulated a plan in which PES “reimbursed” the Fig for facility usage. This was acceptable because the Fig technically owned or was the sole member of PES. With this new change, a formal lease would be needed since each institution was now separately owned.
Over the last 18 months, key leaders worked to draft, edit and complete a long-term lease arrangement. That lease was executed by the parties, approved by the Diocese and commenced in July, 2014. Again, many thanks go to Jay Madrid for facilitating and finalizing the lease. This is a ten year lease. However, there is flexibility and financial compensation built into the lease should PES be able to unify its campus to Midway Road during the lease term. All sides were supportive and agreed on this point, including an agreement by both institutions to collaborate on what we might do on the Hillcrest campus if PES is able to relocate at some point to Midway. PES is going to reimburse us under the same negotiated plan, plus provide contributions to needed capital improvements in their buildings and our administrative salaries. We will control and operate all of the Hillcrest buildings now, handled and supervised by our newly hired Director of Facilities, Bracken Reece. Bracken comes to us from St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, where he handled all aspects of plant management, including assistance with the Episcopal School of Dallas’ lease and use of St. Michael’s facilities. Both PES and our leadership feel very, very fortunate to have Bracken serving on staff!
We are proud to watch PES’ growth and success. It has achieved remarkable things and transforms the minds, bodies, and spirits of so many of God’s children. We at Transfiguration feel privileged for our history with PES and honored to maintain our partnership with it for years to come. We pray that God may continue to bless the work and ministry of both PES and Transfiguration.
Chris Ayres, Senior Warden