The 'Piano Man' is lending his money, and his time, to help save a Long Island arts school that had been facing closure.
Billy Joel is pledging $1 million from his foundation to the Long Island High School for The Arts in Syosset, which school officials have said is faced with closing due to shrinking enrollment and a decline in tuition revenue.
Joel's donation is contingent on Nassau BOCES agreeing to keep the school open for three years.
Newsday reports that 92 students are currently enrolled in the school.
Beyond the financial pledge, Joel is pledging of himself as well. February 8th, he will conduct an "Afternoon of Questions & Answers...and a Little Music," to take place at Tilles Center in Brookville, an invitation-only event for current and prospective students of the school and school officials.
“We are delighted to be in a partnership and collaboration with Billy Joel and his people, and they have been outstanding,” said Nassau BOCES superintendent Robert Dillon. “Money is always good, but we need enrollment,” Dillon said. “We are hoping that with Billy’s participation in our event, that prospective students within all districts in Nassau County and from Suffolk continue enrolling at LIHSA.”
Joel, who has been a longtime supporter of arts education in public schools, wrote a letter to the Nassau BOCES board in November, urging them reconsider closing the only public high school arts program on Long Island.
“I went to public school on Long Island and I am grateful for the music program and my music teachers for helping provide me the tools for which I have based my career,” he wrote. “I understand that closing this school does not mean the end of the music and arts programs on Long Island, but it does indicate our willingness to abandon a school that has been there for 40 years.”
Photo: Owen Sweeney/AP