Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Channukah!

Many of us work in offices where, at this time of year, it is considered bad form to yell at another person or send a nasty email because it's not in the "spirit of the season."  As frum Jews who believe that "Derech Eretz Kadma L'Torah" we should have at least the same standards for civility as the secular world.  So during Channukah, lets focus on the flames and not the flame wars.  Let's remember that under Assyrian occupation, Jews had to put their lives on the line to be able study Torah.  Yes, we are all suffering from the high cost of tuition, but by historical standards this is a pretty good time and place to be a frum Jew.  B"H we have a lot of options for our children to study Torah and we are getting even more.  There is a need for criticism of the way the schools are run but that criticism should be done in a respectful manner, without impugning anyone's motives. 

[Editor's note: Ok, by popular demand I removed the option to comment under the name "anonymous".  However, in doing so I also removed the option to just add a screen name when you comment.  So for now in order to comment you must first register with Google, AIM, LiveJournal, Wordpress, TypePad, AIM, or OpenID.  You can still remain anonymous but your comments will have a name on them so they can be referenced by other comments without having to reference the time you posted it.  I am trying to change to using different blogging software such as IntenseDebate or Disqus, which will make it easier to have spam/trolling automatically filtered and will have other good features on them.  Please be patient while everything gets working properly.]

63 comments:

  1. Sending to Heatid next year is what they call a "no-lose" proposition. The only way I lose is if Heatid is so bad next year that it screws up my child for life having attended it for just one year. I kind of doubt anyone really thinks that is going to happen. So all you hacks continue talking and talking and bashing while I take my thousands of dollars and go put them in the bank to pay for the leaky roof I have and save for retirement and overall have less stress in my house.

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  2. Been There Done ThatDecember 21, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    "Sending to Heatid next year is what they call a "no-lose" proposition. The only way I lose is if Heatid is so bad next year that it screws up my child for life having attended it for just one year. I kind of doubt anyone really thinks that is going to happen. So all you hacks continue talking and talking and bashing while I take my thousands of dollars and go put them in the bank to pay for the leaky roof I have and save for retirement and overall have less stress in my house"

    Good for you. I'm not sure why you live in Teaneck when you can't afford it, but that was your decision. The reality is this: Very few people believe heatid's model is superior. Most of the parents are from the apartments, meaning that additional fund raising will probably be a challenge. I had to laugh when I read the latter in the Jewish Standard by the supposed head of the PTA of heatid ( How did that happen? I didnt realize heatid had even told anyone who was accepted, let alone vote on a head of the PTA!) who is the supposed expert with all of one years teaching experience under her belt. How many people would send to heatid if their tuition were 15k/year? Probably no one other than the founders.

    As far as Chanales goes, I am amazed at the negative comments exhibited toward him. Chanales started and sustained a school here. If anyone knows a school budget first hand, its him. He's not some clueless twenty-something. Therefore, when he speaks, I take it seriously. I don't think anyone here, including YD, really understands how heatid can do this. Why they refuse to reveal it is disconcerting.

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  3. "Chanales started and sustained a school here."

    Good for him. Is the school he started affordable? If not, why should I care what school he may or may not have started?

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  4. GD started an affordable yeshiva. Give him Shlishi.

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  5. Genuine question related to the comment I have heard about it being a "no lose" proposition. How will you judge after a year (or two or three) whether the education / experience was good versus whether you should pull your kids out and "send them back to the legacies"? Is it if they are happy? Learning something? Other parents seem happy? Not complaining?

    Did it ever occur to you that it takes a lot longer than that to see whether you've gotten all that you could out of a child's education? I prefer to look back at years of experience and the products of schools to measure whether something was a success, rather than what X parent (or even Y kid) said about Z teacher and whether they love the other kids in their class.

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  6. Wow. For the person who keeps posting that most people attending he'atid are from the apts - you clearly have NO CLUE as to the deomographic of that area. Most people living in the apts have 1-2 kids and almost all are not over the age of 3.

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  7. there should be a policy across the board that legacies should offer no scholarships to new students. parents moving to this area or with kids just beginning k absolutely know the cost of tuition and should not move here expecting to get a free ride. I can understand offering financial aid to families that already have children in a given school and are going through particularly hard times. In addition if a family owns a house they should absolutely not qualify for aid. It is insane to have parents who made good financial decisions subsidizing those who made poor ones. Its time for people to take responsiblity for their own children and live within their means especially in light of the fact that he atid, jfs and chabad are realities. If a parent cant afford 9k per year not sure what they were thinking moving to teaneck.

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  8. I am confused by the people posting that BC does not need yet another school (#6). I fully agree, but do you feel shutting down #6 (He'Atid) is enough, or should BPY (#5) also get shut down? Where were you when BPY was formed? Schools #1-4 were not full before BPY and are still not full - so let's talk about shutting down BPY. They have over 250 kids that will really help fill up classes in grades PK-6. Why pick on He'Atid that only has around 100 kids and only will help fill up classes in PK-1.

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  9. i think we should stop debating the merits or lack there of of he atid. if you cant afford full tuition you should send to he atid end of story. not everyone can afford to live on winthrop and those who cant afford full tuition but have a child who is age appropriate for he atid shouldnt be given a choice. i think a lesson little children learn that we all are forgetting is life is not always fair end of story.

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  10. I wonder how the founders of the legacy schools feel looking back at their "accomplishment" of creating schools that only a small segment of the community (i.e., Winthrops) can comfortably afford.

    Do they take pride in this "accomplishment"? They shouldn't. They should be ashamed. Do any of you know how many unborn children there are because of the legacy schools and the tuition they charge?

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  11. 10:41, that is such a "Straw Man," and you know it. Tuition strains have always been a probably for Jewish Day Schools. Most parents were not making $225k (as someone believes the median income in BC to be) or anywhere near it on a relative basis 20 or 30 years ago and yet they worked it out to give their children a quality Jewish education, whether by sacaficing personal luxuries or receiving aid from the schools. The real question is what is with the 20 or 30 year olds today that they are unwilling to sacrafice or seek aid and are willing to harm communal institutions as a result?

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  12. It is disgusting how people are giving the holier-than-thou speech about needing to do "what is best for the community". it is as if the existing schools are doing just that. in fact, they are really an oligopoly (like OPEC) where they fixed prices and carved out their own sections of the population and promised not to compete with each other for students. don't get me wrong, they are serving the community in educating our children, but do not say they are working in a unified manner to do what is best for the community as a whole. the best for the community would be a single school that can really spread out the fixed costs of a school among a much larger population. Why is BC any different than Elizabeth (JEC) or Staten Island or Montreal? We should have a single school!!

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  13. "I wonder how the founders of the legacy schools feel looking back at their "accomplishment" of creating schools that only a small segment of the community (i.e., Winthrops) can comfortably afford.

    Do they take pride in this "accomplishment"? They shouldn't. They should be ashamed. Do any of you know how many unborn children there are because of the legacy schools and the tuition they charge?"

    I have been reading this over and over and I just don't understand it. First of all, these people created Torah institutions and educated tens of thousands. For that alone, they should be thanked.

    Second of all, tuition has not radically changed in the last five years. If you didn't plan for this, why is it the founders of the schools' fault?

    Third of all, these schools are not "owned" like a business. Other than salaries, no one is making a fortune (or any money at all) from these schools. They are non-profit, and, in fact, generally run at break even or deficits.

    So, as far this "unborn babies" comment goes, I don't believe it. However, if you didn't plan for tuition, who's fault is it? The schools or yours? Why do some people here seek to blame their financial problems on everyone else?

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  14. As someone has been around the Bergen county scene for many years, I feel that absolutely BPY is the school which has sucked resources out of this community. Since it moved to Paramus, BPY has been a second choice school for parents getting locked out of Noam. Rather than spilling back into Yavneh and Moriah, BPY has happily been collecting their tuition dollars. Yavneh has been able to stay afloat because of the buses coming down from Rockland County. However, Moriah cannot stay afloat for long if it continues to bleed students to BPY, Chabad and now SACS and he'atid.

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  15. Heatid will free up money for people to donate to worthy causes in town. Many people will now be able to give to charity where before they were sucked dry by the legacy schools.

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  16. By the way, if any of you would like to create an anonymous ID to post here, I was able to quickly do so at www.myid.net . How can you go wrong with a website with "yid" in the url? And if you want to learn more about me, clicky clicy on my name.

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  17. We need greater accountability in our legacy schools. Also I fear this blog is going to die off soon if you don't allow anonymous comments. Please reconsider.

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  18. 396bee58-2bf6-11e1-8662-000bcdcb5194 , all you have to do in order to post here anonymously is go to www.myid.net and register a username with a fake email address. then in the dropdown menu that says Comment as:, select OpenID and follow the instructions. I don't care about the opinions about posters who are not able to figure out how to post anonymously.

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. rickroll,
    are you speculating about moriah, or are you aware of something like the number of PK and K students they signed up for the upcoming year?

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  21. Rickroll, people like to be able to quickly and easily make comments while at work or on the blackberry. You can mark my words that this blog will quickly die off and become irrelevant if people need to log-in to make a comment.

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  22. heard similar things about moriah. would be bad if heatid destroyed another school.

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  23. 396...,

    The purpose of this blog is to have a discussion, not to entertain. I'll gladly trade off fewer hits for a more productive discussion.

    People firing things off from their blackberry without thinking through what they are saying or having any coherent point are part of the problem. People didn't notice the thoughtful comments because they are drowned about by people calling each other "hacks" and debating whether or not GD is the messiah.

    Let's give this a few days & see how it goes.

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  24. YD: Thank you for adding sanity to our sometimes heated discussions. This blog is so much better than when the other guy ran his. BTW, I'm curious. Do you know his identity? If not, how did you guys connect?

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  25. "and debating whether or not GD is the messiah."

    What is the debate?

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  26. warwick1,

    your comment makes it sound like he'atid already destroyed one school. which one?

    while i do not want to see the demise of any educational institution, it is better for some to close down than to limp along for a prolonged period of time.

    just imagine how the remaining schools will be able to flourish if they got an influx of all the students from moriah (or any other school for that matter).

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  27. Back to the topic of school economics, it is absolutely the case that the number one driver of a school budget, and therefore tuition, is the enrollment. Let’s take for example YNJ (because it has easy round numbers to work with) – it has 1000 kids across 10 grades. Let’s call it 100 kids per grade, 20 in each of 5 classes … Let’s assume that they are willing to have 22 kids in each class. That would be 100 more kids (5X2X10). At an average tuition of 12,000 (net of scholarships), those extra 100 kids would mean $1.2 million in the budget, with very little extra costs. That would have a much larger budget impact than that of “cutting admin salaries”, “trimming resource rooms”, or even (gasp) cutting all but one admin from the schools (believe it or not, based on the 990s, the listed people are the top 5 earners, so it’s not close to $200k average per admin). I know the math is simplified, but it’s not far off from being true.

    I think the sentiment you are hearing from those people like Mr.? Rabbi? Chanales (and I clearly don’t know him at all), is why would we not all band behind the schools in filling empty seats, rather than causing more empty seats by creating competition?

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  28. We need to cut all the admins salaries by 20% starting right after Hanukkah.

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  29. best-abba and Chanales are right about supporting the current schools like moriah before creating new ones.

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  30. "best-abba and Chanales are right about supporting the current schools like moriah before creating new ones."

    Hell no. The legacy schools are unaffordable. GD was right to create an affordable school in Bergen County. We don't need more unaffordable legacy schools in town but we sure as hell need more affordable solutions and Heatid is leading the way thanks to GD and company.

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  31. why would we not all band behind the schools in filling empty seats, rather than causing more empty seats by creating competition?

    How do schools fill empty seats other than by consolidation, since every kid in Bergen County who wants to be in a yeshiva is already in a yeshiva (with very few exceptions?)

    To fill empty seats, should schools be recruiting more kids from Riverdale, Monsey, Clifton, West Orange and Elizabeth?

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  32. maybe some consolidation but do that before starting something new. heatid kids should go to moriah or YNJ.

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  33. " heatid kids should go to moriah or YNJ."

    Why the hell would I want to pay MORE for an education I believe will be inferior? Do you think before you write?

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  34. best-abba,

    you are absolutely correct - while cutting costs do help, the main driver in a school are students per class. it does make sense for people to voice anger at yet another school being started, but as you point out RYNJ could fit another 100 kids in each grade no problem at no cost. as he'atid is not across all grades, it does not lend itself to filling up each classroom across PK-8. a school like BPY (PK-6) or any of the others is a much better option to really make an impact.

    i did not hear that sentiment from Mr Chanales - what i heard was specifically against a NEW school. i also do not know him (or even heard of him), but if he is such an influential character in BC, then maybe he should call an all-school meeting and ask for a brainstorming session on how to merge institutions. it is easy to cast stones at the new guy, but why don't the existing institutions and the founders of the community find a solution without he'atid. if two of the big schools would merge, then he'atid would be a blip and would definitely flounder and not be a threat of "taking away seats". putting it another way, an existing school can target he'atid students (only 100 in a limited 3 grades) or it can target the students at a larger school (with 300+ students in all grades). it is sad that the schools are working together to drive out he'atid (like a true oligopoly) instead of working together to find a solution regardless of he'atid.

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  35. Heatid has exposed the legacy schools as complete ripoffs. That is why many associated with these schools are bashing Heatid at every chance they get in shul on Shabbos.

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  36. tesyaa,

    it is interesting that you suggest recruiting from outside the area. this is similar to what JFS is doing by offering a good price with busing to BC parents. my take on why BC are not doing this is because our current schools like to play it both ways - they like to say on one hand that they have small class sizes, and then on the other hand say that it is due to competition that they cannot fill the rooms. it would be refreshing to hear a school state their views on what the maximum number of students they can have in a classroom, and then figure out how to get to capacity. they seem to only want to add kids to a class when an event occurs (like SACS not opening) and then be apologetic to the existing parents that they are helping out the new kids.

    as i stated in other posts, the solution to lowering costs in the existing schools completely rests in their hands and has nothing to do with he'atid. 100 kids in PK-1 should have nothing to do with existing schools figuring out what to do in grades 2-8.

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  37. tesyaa, rynj is definitely recruiting kids from those areas. They are also grabbing from the UWS and Fair Lawn. Another way to fill empty seats would be to lower prices overall to grab people who might have otherwise chosen public school. This is what chabad of Tenafly did and it worked for them. Yet another way is to offer specialized remedial and/or enrichment. YNJ has attracted many families because one of the siblings needed special ed services that were only available there and not at other yeshivas. BPY essentially offers Hebrew enrichment by only hiring Israeli teachers for limudei kodesh and thus attracted some Israeli families.


    But that is an aside. Does anyone on this thread have information about how many children have enrolled at each of the schools for pre-K and K for 2012-2013? Or how many sections are being offered for those two grades? Even if you only have information about one school, post it here. By comparing those figures with this year's enrollment figures we can see who has lost the most kids to he'atid.

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  38. Why would a school claim to be MO if it makes certain kids wear jackets for davening?

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  39. 396

    don't think heatid claims its MO. rabbi is from drs and wears a velvet kippah.

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  40. 396, give it a rest. we all know you don't like ynj and would rather post anonymously so you could bash them 50 times a day, no need to keep posting.

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  41. What is the difference between Noam and RYNJ strictly in terms of economics? It seems that rickroll is saying RYNJ would love to have more kids in their classes and would then be able to lower cost per student across the board, but then you have a school like Noam that has wait lists (meaning, they have no shortage of ways to fill classes) yet their cost per student is still high. Do they have more teachers per room? More need for out of classroom costs?

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  42. They refer to themselves as "Modern Orthodox" all the time, including at the open house and in every news article.

    If the principal wearing a velvet kippah makes you not modern than Yavneh, Noam and BPY are also not modern.

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  43. "don't think heatid claims its MO. rabbi is from drs and wears a velvet kippah."

    Rabbi Gralla will not impose chasidish charedi jacket requirements at Heatid. If you don't believe me just go and ask him. As for his velvet kippah, are you sure he wouldn't put on a kippah sruga if asked? Not everything is a political statement.

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  44. Keep in mind the "pie" is growing. He'atids growth wont necessarily mean enrollment at other schools will go down in the long run.

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  45. anon613 said: "it would be refreshing to hear a school state their views on what the maximum number of students they can have in a classroom, and then figure out how to get to capacity."

    I think that the difficulty is that schools have a number in mind (let's say it's 22 or 23). The problem is that, other than Noam, they do not want to close kids out. If you close kids out, you are in danger of losing not only that kid, but the whole family. So, you take the 24th and 25th and 26th kid, and then at a certain point need to figure out when to create a new class, which increases expenses, because those new classes are undersubscribed. Solving for an exact number is very difficult. The problem is even more acute in grades that are gender separated, which is admittedly part a hashkafic/educational question, part financial.

    One question I have for He'Atid (no, I haven't asked them, but they likely rightfully won't talk to me since my kids are not He'Atid age and I'm not a likely big donor): How do you plan to get at the perfect class size - is hoping for waiting lists the best approach? What happens when that ends up messing up a family that you want to keep, maybe even a big donor?

    I have heard that He'Atid has minimums and maximums for opening up a class, but in the budgets, what is assumed ... min, max, average? Does the budget work in all cases or is the parent body "underwriting" a specific class size?

    Again, I am not challenging, just trying to understand if there are any good ideas on these topics.

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  46. definitely need to keep moriah if its the only school without a velvet kippah at the head. don't need anymore pareve schools that pretend to offer general studies.

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  47. I am not on the board of any of these schools. However, from publicly available documents Noam appears to be carrying a huge debt per student. The other schools either own their buildings outright (Yavneh, Moriah), rent (BPY, heAtid), or have a smaller mortgage offset by rental income (YNJ). It is a good question what he'atid would do if a grade fell below 18 or so students per class after a few years of attrition. I would guess that with $1 million in donations they have a huge cushion for the first few classes.

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  48. best-abba,

    you raise an interesting point. obviously to build a financial model, you need to have assumptions of students per class. regardless of what that assumption is, you then need a game plan to achieve that size. the number in the model may have been the max per room (and then there is a huge risk of falling short) or they may have built it with their min per room (and then have upside if more enroll). regardless of what was used, they still need to attract those parents. as rickroll mentioned earlier, a lower price is a way to attract people (he was referring to an idea for RYNJ). it is possible he'atid believes they have found the right price to attract the numbers they need.

    i think all this conversation about attracting students per class really hits the nail on the head in terms of the source for a school's ability to optimize its per student spend. while taking 100 students out of the pie for the existing schools is not helpful, the existing schools have been running with their current class size issues for a while already (as none of them are really full except Noam), so why is it only when 100 PK-1 kids are taken out of the pie, the schools start to ask how to attract students. it seems they have been complacent with each of their share of the pie without wanting to step on each others toes - which sounds very polite and "menchlech", but it is wrong to call it "for the community", as you have so correctly pointed out a full class would lower costs per student (which would really help the community).

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  49. the more schools there are in BC the more admins there are making six figure salaries. Is it any wonder why none of the legacy schools have consolidated? Which admin is going to want to give up their cushy six-figure job and then have to enter the real world and get a real job in NYC with the big boys like the rest of us?

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  50. heatid got $1 million in donations! shanda. the other schools are struggling and donors gave $1 million to this new school!! no wonder the community is suffering.

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  51. It really seems that the community has been over capacity in terms of seats in schools, per students in BC for a while. The only difference this year is that he'atid is pushing them from being moderately over capacity, into being more heavily over capacity. You cannot blame He'Atid for the capacity issue - it was here for quite a while. It is only due to the economic down turn coupled with He'Atid, that it has become more obvious.

    As He'Atid is renting space (and giving revenue to an existing school), their existence is really not harming the long-term viability of the community. From a community perspective, it should be looked at (1) as a way to "test" if there are more efficient ways to provide an effective education, and also (2) as a wake up call that something more aggressive is needed to be done, and not simply nipping at the edges of costs (as has been discussed today that costs are not the real force behind efficiency).

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  52. I don't know if the "no Anonymous" policy has will cut comments , but it has exposed that many of the angriest comments are all coming from one person. I'll address one of them:

    "Heatid has exposed the legacy schools as complete ripoffs."

    Did not!

    (Now you get to say, "did too!")

    HeAtid has not proved that the other schools are "ripoffs" because they aren't ripoffs. Private schooling is expensive. The 990s show that our schools are fairly lean. There may be too many teachers and admins at some schools, but I didn't find the salaries of even the most senior admins shocking (except at BPY, where they are shockingly LOW).

    If HeAtid's model works, it will have exposed that a different educational model and a different organizational model can have different economics. It hasn't even proven that yet, since the school isn't open. But HeAtid has proven one thing already: that there IS demand for a lower cost Yeshiva day school. That was not obvious! JFS has doubled its BC students each year, but remains an incredibly small number overall. Apparently cost savings and a 50 year track record are not important if your child has to ride on a van instead of a bus. SACS sold out, but that might not be relevant - it's not a day school, and it's free. An earlier attempt at a low cost day school in Teaneck failed due to lack of demand. But the economy has changed, education technology has improved, and the people working on HeAtid have great credibility. Maybe there is demand to cut costs now? Real demand (not anonymous Internet kvetching)? There is, and that's HeAtid's biggest proof point so far. The fact that HeAtid was able to get a critical mass of donations from the prospective parent body (before attracting larger donors) was encouraging. The fact that HeAtid now has 110 non-refundable registrations in hand - at $1300 a piece - proves without a doubt that there is real demand for a lower cost option, even if it is using a new educational model and has no track record. Existing schools have always been afraid to cut costs because it upsets parents who want more services and personnel, especially large donors. Well, now there's clear evidence that there are a lot of families who are taking cost into consideration.

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  53. Avi, If you think I am the only "angry" guy in town I have an army of equally angry people ready to fight the fight and take it to the legacy schools for ripping off a generation of jews and ensuring that more babies were not born.

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  54. avi's right. you and Chump made it seem like there was seething anger when really it was just the two you (and maybe you are one and the same) who have some sort of anger problem with the schools. certainly not a reason to start a new school.

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  55. You caught me warwick. Really there are only 1 or 2 people in the entire Bergen County who are angry at the legacy schools for ripping us all off. My secret has been exposed. The truth is that 99% of the community think that the money being charged by the legacy schools is reasonable and affordable. (please note sarcasm)

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  56. Avi - indeed eye opening and a bit disturbing

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  57. Just catching up. Avi - spot on as usual. I think that the dfifference between previous efforts as well as JFS and He'Atid is the message being sent. I vivdly recall the last effort being referred to as a Chevy school and know that JFS has not been marketing superiority in educational model (they are marketing that they are just as good, but not necessarily better or different).

    You see, nobody wants to cheap out (or be viewed as cheaping out) on their kids' education, in the same weay that people don't like to ask how much the best cancer doctor will cost.
    The brilliance of He'Atid is that they knew they were going nowhere with cost alone. So, they hooked on to the technology as a differentiator and now claim superiority. It remains to be seen if it was just marketing or if they can actually be successful. It also remains to be seen (assuming they are successful) whether it is because they got the enrollment numbers they wanted because of the differentiator or whether it's because they got the donor dollars because of their good marketing.

    I firmly believe that, at the end of the day, there won't be much of a difference in the cost per child (as opposed to tuition per child) between He'Atid and the other schools. If there is, it's because they can fill up classes efficiently.

    The rest is all about marketing.

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  58. I see these claims as, for the most part, spurred on by immediate emotional response without careful vetting by the authors. To choose not appreciate the people who created vital aspects of the community is arrogant and closed minded. To ignore that the paradigm of yesterday is no longer viable is ignorant.

    To tout a new school as a better option for unproven reasons is ridiculous, but to deny that other options are necessary and change can be a good thing is delusional.

    OK, truth be told, I'm just trying out this new ID...

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  59. best-abba

    are you saying that the technology stuff is just a marketing ploy? sound rather cynical.

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  60. warwick - I'm not suggesting it's only a marketing ploy, but they may have wanted to create a low-cost school without running into the problems of the past initiatives, and tech was the solution. Ask yourself if it was lower cost without the tech, if it would be popular. Ask yourself if it were tech at the same cost as the other schools, if it would be popular. It's the combination that's appealing. It's appealing because it's a reason to not be viewed as cheaping out and because, like anything tech, it sounds cool (like a new iPad). That's what I mean by marketing - it's not a negative connotation - on the contrary, I think it's smart. I just don't think it costs less. It's the class size efficiencies and the donors that may make a difference.

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  61. i get it about making heatid sound cool and not just cheap. moriah has lots of tech so i don't really get how heatid is any different from moriah on that. how is heatid gonna be cheaper unless they pay less?

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  62. What school did Mr. CHanales help start (pardon my ignorance).

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  63. Please keep the comments on topic, which is BC Yeshivas. Chump's identity (which I don't know) is off-topic. I am deleting comments speculating on it.

    I don't know why anyone cares about it anyway.

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