Although the Press Release issued by the Academy of Greatness & Excellence (AGE) was self-explanatory regarding the purchase of the property that includes the former Neumann Prep High School, many speculations and wrong perspectives were exchanged via social media. Hopefully, this statement will shed some light on the transaction and alleviate a few concerns related to it.
Documented facts related to this transaction:
The main purpose of this transaction was to secure the property and the building for Muslim students.
The building would not be available to Al-Ghazaly High School nor to any other private school if AGE did not purchase the building. The IEF lease was due to expire on July 31st 2022.
AGE was legally obligated to honor a verbal/written confidentiality agreement that was imposed on all parties involved in the transaction.
Before submitting an offer, AGE had obtained a written confirmation from the broker/Diocese that they were not engaged in any kind of negotiation with any Islamic organization especially the IEF. The Diocese also confirmed that the IEF is aware that the building is for sale, and it did NOT receive any offer from the IEF up until the offer by AGE was accepted.
AGE was not bidding against the IEF, AGE was bidding against well-established development firms who seek at least 8% return on their capital investment; none of which included keeping a school operating in the building.
The Diocese was determined to sell the entire property and have immediate access to the proceeded funds from the sale; they were not open to any long-term lease. The Diocese refused the AGE offer to lease the building for $700k per year in case AGE was unable complete the purchase.
AGE assumes full responsibility for all the facts stated in its press release dated July 24th and all the facts included in this statement.
AGE honors its moral obligation toward other Islamic Schools and toward Islamic Education. On the “Admission and Registration” pages of the AGE website, AGE lists all other Islamic schools and their addresses as an alternative option to AGE. Our goal is to attract as many students as possible to reap the benefits of Islamic education and accordingly, make Islamic Schools self-sustainable and financially stable. All Islamic schools, including AGE, struggle to survive on a yearly basis and are financially challenged as they deal with limited resources in all aspects. It takes years for any school to break even and recover from the debts that are a result of the deficit that was funded during the first few years of its inception.
The IEF should not be blamed for being unable to purchase this property or any other property. The community and Islamic Centers should also not be blamed for not being able to complete such a purchase, because collecting a few hundred thousand dollars in fundraisers would not have made an impact on a transaction this size. You cannot expect community members to donate for Islamic Schools while they cannot afford to enroll their own children in one. This transaction far exceeds the financial ability of most of the non-profit Islamic Organizations.
As a community, we should be looking at the Islamic Financial Institutions for answers; the Islamic Financial Institutions that use Islam and Sharia to attract Muslim investors who are seeking a halal return on their investments. These institutions should invest more in Islamic community projects to create jobs, open new schools, build community centers, factories, help the youth to start small businesses and empower innovation and creativity among our Muslim generations. Unfortunately, Islamic Financial Institutions today are following the traditional way of investment, simply investing in the stock market like any other fund. Without a systemic financial support of these institutions to our schools, it will be very hard for any Islamic School to secure a proper building without jeopardizing the personal assets of the Board members to personally guarantee the note on any purchased building.
The IEF Schools, Academy of Greatness and Excellence (AGE), Noble Leadership Academy (NLA), Rising Star Academy (RSA), Miftaahul Uloom Academy (MUA), and many other Islamic Schools are great schools that are run by highly qualified principals and dedicated staff members, they just need the financial support of Islamic financial institutions to reach the financial stability, become self-sustained, and concentrate on creating bright futures and proper environments for our children. The administration and staff of all Islamic schools deserve the highest levels of respect and appreciation from every member in our community.
As previously communicated from both organizations, AGE and the IEF have mutual respect for each other, and have maintained a cooperative relationship for years. In an initial meeting with representatives from both school boards, AGE has presented the following options to the IEF to maintain the stability of Al-Ghazaly High School:
IEF can negotiate an extension to stay in the building (lease extension)
IEF can purchase the property from AGE
AGE can leave its Teaneck campus so that Al-Ghazaly High School can move back to its original location, and AGE will use the Neumann Prep building as its new campus.
A decision must be finalized by December 1st, 2022. This will allow both organizations to be transparent with the parents before opening the enrollment for the 2023/2024 school year.
Had anyone else purchased the property, these options would not be available for both organizations, and the efforts of the last ten years would have been wasted. As stated in the AGE press release, "our main concern is to secure this beautiful building for educating our children in such an adequate facility regardless of which organization is running the operation. We are grateful to Allah (SWT) for being able to complete this large financial transaction without asking the community for help or resorting to fundraisers, which is something AGE has never done during its existence". This is a major accomplishment that our community should be proud of.
In conclusion, AGE is committed to ensuring the stability of other Islamic schools in general, and Al-Ghazaly School in particular, and we sincerely honor such a commitment. Accordingly, we urge those who cannot acknowledge the success of others, those who try to tint such success by nonsensical accusations and frivolous lawsuits, and those who try to associate every noble action with an ulterior motive, to redirect their energy towards helping the community to move forward. If they cannot, then they should stay out of the way.