Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sabah & Savta's Role

Some people think that once parents put their kids through school there obligation is done and their grandchildren's education is their parent's responsibility.  I am not of that opinion.  The grandparents didn't have nearly the kind of burden that today's parents have (even when adjusted for inflation).  If they want to ensure continuity of our Mesorah they need to help out even after their kids are grown.  We are facing a crisis & we need everyone to pitch in.  And the financial situation of the grandparents should absolutely be a factor in scholarship applications.  If the grandparents aren't going to help subsidize their own grandchildren's education why should the rest of the community?  If someone wants to claim that their parents refuse to help them and that they shouldn't be penalized on their scholarship application because of their parents' wealth then they should produce bank statements that don't show any money transferred from their parents' account.  And none of the checks made out to the school should be from the grandparents' account.  And there shouldn't be any Pesach vacations paid for by the grandparents.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Isru Chag Labor Day

He'atid announced they are starting the 2012 school year on Tuesday, September 4th, the day after Labor Day and will have school until June 21st.  I never really understood why schools waited a day or two AFTER Labor Day to start, which inconvenienced most parents.  I hear other schools are also planning on adding days to the school year.  I think finally they are getting the message that they have to be sensitive to the schedules of working families if they want us to be able to make enough to pay full tuition!  We can't ask teachers to make any less money than they are making now (they have to eat!) but I think it is fair to ask them to start putting in a few more hours.  It's still a pretty convenient job in terms of the hours and the days off.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tuition of Yesteryear

Does anyone know exactly what tuition was at any local Yeshiva Day Schools 20 or 30 years ago?  I'm curious to know how it compares to today in inflation-adjusted dollars.  Maybe some of our parents have old bills in their attics?

Friday, February 17, 2012

What's the Deal With SACS, Part II

According to their website, Shalom Academy has 4 application periods and a lottery on the Monday following each end date.  3 of the 4 application periods have dates on them and the 4th says TBA.  All 3 application periods dates have now come and gone.  Have there been any lotteries?  Does anyone know anything at all?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Post: Technology Initiative Aid Bill

Parents of the Day School in Edison received a letter encouraging them to call their State Assemblymen asking them to vote for a bill that would provide funding for education technology in non-public schools (see letter after the jump).  I encourage my readers in BC to do the same by contacting our assemblymen.  Their contact info can be found by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Update From He'atid

He'atid sent out the following letter (cropped).  I think Ora will be a great addition.  From what I hear she was very well liked and very productive at Bat Torah.  And it's nice to hear lots of parents are willing to take a chance on a new school with a new model.
Dear Parents,
Yeshivat He'Atid has been making tremendous progress over the past few months, in preparation for our Fall 2012 opening. Rabbi Gralla is in the process of interviewing dozens of fabulous educators; we hope to issue an announcement shortly about some of these new hires. On the operations front, we are succesfully preparing the building on South Washington Avenue and gaining all needed certifications. We're thrilled to announce that due to increased demand, we plan to open a third pre-K! Please let your friends and family know that there are still spots available.

We are extremely pleased to welcome Ora Kornbluth to the Yeshivat He'Atid family. As Director of Business and Operations, she will be handling all of the day-to-day operations of the school. Ora brings to Yeshivat He'Atid nearly two decades of experience working in Jewish day schools. She worked for many years as the Director of Student Activities at Bat Torah Flatow Yeshiva High School in Paramus, N.J, where she had administrative responsibilities. She has also served as the COO of Sensation NY, a pediatric OT and sensory gym located on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. For several summers, she has worked as an Assistant Head Counselor for Camp Regesh. A sports lover at heart, Ora is an Official Statistician for CBS Sports and is part of the game day support staff for the National Football League. She currently serves as a Councilwoman representing the borough of Bergenfield, N.J. She holds a bachelor of arts in economics from Yeshiva University.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Morah in Chief

The poll we did asking about if a woman could be a principal of a yeshiva day school came out resoundingly in favor.  82% yes to 15% no.  I was actually surprised that so many more said "no" than "ask a Rav" since I thought that the only objection anyone would have would be that it has to go through the proper halachic channels.

The reason it's relevant to a blog about tuition is that we always hear about how admins need to make so much money because they have big families that they are supporting on their own.  But what if one of the Morahs who have a husband who is also working were principal.  Could we then pay them more in line with what principals of small non-yeshivas make?

Now of course you can't pay less to a woman than you were paying to a man for performing the same job.  But as the economy improves and salaries start going up perhaps the principal's salary wouldn't increase as fast if the principal couldn't guilt us into paying more because they were the sole providers for their families.

The only ones who I know would object to the proposal would be the National Council of Young Israel who issued an edict declaring that women (and converts) can't serve as presidents or vice-presidents of shuls.  But I don't care what they have to say because their leadership is about as legitimate as Kim Jong-un's.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hebrew Charter Approved for DC

Kind of sad that the tiny Jewish community in DC can get a charter school up & running & BC can't. Especially sad since a Talmud Torah is opening in BC that combined with a Hebrew charter could be a decent option.  From the Jewish Week:

D.C. Hebrew-language charter school accepted for review
February 9, 2012
(JTA) -- The application for a proposed Hebrew-language charter school was accepted by the District of Columbia Public Charter School board.

The D.C. Hebrew Language Public Charter School is one of 11 prospective charter schools, including an Arabic-language immersion school, that will be reviewed privately by school founding boards before facing a public hearing next month, the Washington Jewish Week reported. It would be the first Hebrew-language charter school in Washington.

A Hebrew-language charter school could not teach religion and would not be considered a religious institution. The public school is expected to attract Jewish and non-Jewish students alike.

The district has 52 charter schools, the Washington Jewish Week reported, citing the D.C. Public Charter School website. Some 29,366 students attend the schools, of which 72 percent are considered low-income.

YDS in KC Slashes Tuition

Overland Park, Kan.
Enrollment: 242 students
Founded: 1966
Tuition: $6,800
Percent on financial aid: 50%

The Forward recently published an article about a Day School in Kansas City that drastically cut costs to maintain its enrollment.

I disagree with the article that Day Schools are in decline.  Maybe that's true in Kansas City or among the Solomon Schechter schools but the Orthodox day schools here in Bergen County are bursting at the seams despite the constant addition of new schools.  Anyway the part I found interesting was this:

To cover the shortfall, the school reached out to families that could afford it and asked them to donate the difference between the old tuition and the new one. And since the donation would be tax deductible, the school asked the families to tack on the money they would have been paying in tax on that gift.

It seems to be working. According to Kaseff, about 40% of the families donated at least $10,000 per student on top of tuition. Private donors from the community helped make up the difference, giving $40,000 in the first year of the program.

So maybe there is hope after all that some people are willing to give more than the minimum required to enroll their own kids to help others and to move some of the costs to pre-tax dollars.  See my earlier post Are WE the problem? where I was cynical about that working.  Maybe I was too cynical.  Or maybe the Jews in Kansas City have a better sense of communal responsibility than we do.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

YDS Affordability Forum in Edison, March 3rd

he Orthodox Forum of Edison/Highland Park

Spring 5772 Series

For more information, please email hpedisonorthodoxforum@gmail.com.

Motzei Shabbat, March 3, 2012, 8:00 pm

Cong. Ohr Torah – 48 Edgemount Road,
Edison, NJ 08817

Affordability of Yeshiva Education



Dr. Scott Goldberg is currently the Director, Institute for University‐School Partnership at Yeshiva University.  He is an Associate Professor at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education & administration where he teaches courses in Quantitative Research, Classroom Assessment, and Differentiated Instruction.    Dr. Goldberg will address the education affordability issue from a national perspective.

Dr. Jenny Mandelbaum has worked in education for 30 years. She has been on the faculty at Rutgers University for the past 24 years, and is currently a Professor in the Department of Communication, where she served as Department Chair from 2003‐2006.    She also serves as a member of the Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva (RPRY) Board of Education.  Dr. Mandelbaum will serve as the Session Chair for the forum.

Josh Pruzansky is currently NJ Regional Director of Public Policy at the Institute for Public Affairs (IPA), the public policy arm of the Orthodox Union (OU).   He previously served as Director of Agudath Israel of New Jersey, in which capacity he directed their Trenton‐based policy and advocacy.   Mr. Pruzansky will address the  education affordability issue from a state perspective.

Abe Schwartzbard has been a member of the RPRY Executive board and Board of Directors for over 20 years.  He served as President of RPRY for 9 years.   He has worked on many of the school budgets, tuition setting, and school policy for most of the years that he has served on the Board. Mr. Schwartzbard will address the education, affordability issue from a local perspective in a current and historical context.

The panelists will discuss the costs
associated with a yeshiva education and potential solutions to the crisis.

The Orthodox Forum gladly accepts season sponsorships ($200 recommended). Please send your tax deductible check, made out to Congregation Ohr Torah Gemach Fund, to Henry Lerner, 1 Celler Road, Edison, NJ 08817.

For more information, please email hpedisonorthodoxforum@gmail.com

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Technology to Reduce Costs?

The Digital Day School from Jewish Daily Forward on Vimeo.

At Yavneh's Q&A in December, Rabbi Knapp said that while he is a big proponent of technology, because of its potential to educate children in an engaging way, he and the Board do not see it as a means of reducing costs.  Take a look at the video.  Seems that now he's changed his tune.  Maybe He'atid really is on to something.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Guest Post: JFS Open House

The Jewish Foundation School of Staten Island invites all prospective parents to an Open House on Sunday, February 12 at 8:00 PM at the home of Uri and Devra Gutfreund in Bergenfield. To RSVP, email lists@greengart.com.

·        JFS is affordable: tuition is roughly half the cost of most Bergen County day schools

·        JFS is established: JFS has openings in grades K - 8 and a 57 year track record of delivering on the modern Orthodox goal of integrating Torah and yirat shamayim with excellent secular education

·        JFS is high tech: computers are used to assess student progress in secular studies, smartboards are used in select classes, and the developer of torahskills.org teaches at JFS

·        JFS speaks Hebrew: JFS features an Advanced Ivrit Program and an emphasis on the importance of Medinat Yisrael

·        JFS is convenient: hours are friendlier for working parents (grades K-3 have an extended day with after-school homework supervision), and door-to-door transportation is included (transportation times are often no longer than the bus to "local" schools)

·        JFS is growing: there are currently Teaneck/Bergenfield children in grades 1 through 7, and additional children are already planning on enrolling for the 2012-13 school year

·        JFS gets results: the combination of a warm learning environment and high academic standards results in graduates attending top area high schools

Learn how your child will be inspired to grow in Torah and challenging academics. The Principal and Vice Principal look forward to meeting you and answering your questions. JFS has been providing affordable day school tuitions for 57 years. RSVP by emailing lists@greengart.com and come see what it’s all about.

For more information, visit the school web site at http://www.jewishfoundationschool.org 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Is Tuition "Tzedakah Deductible"?

כִּי תְכַלֶּה לַעְשֵׂר אֶת-כָּל-מַעְשַׂר תְּבוּאָתְךָ בַּשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁלִישִׁת שְׁנַת הַמַּעֲשֵׂר  וְנָתַתָּה לַלֵּוִי לַגֵּר לַיָּתוֹם וְלָאַלְמָנָה וְאָכְלוּ בִשְׁעָרֶיךָ וְשָׂבֵעוּ.

Has anyone discussed with a Rabbi what portion of Yeshiva tuition, if any, could count towards our required Tzedakah contributions?

It's generally accepted that the 10% requirement is based on our "after tax" income.  but perhaps it should also be after-tuition since according to most Orthodox rabbis yeshiva tuition is an obligation.

But perhaps some of it should not only be deductible, but a credit towards tzedaka.  After all, some of the tuition dollars (the amount is debatable & varies by school) is used to help those in need get a scholarship.  

And what about the portion that goes towards Torah study.  Isn't Torah study considered tzedakah?  Even the money that goes towards secular study should perhaps be considered tzedakah if, according to your Rabbi, its a mitzvah to send your child to a day school all day, rather than just a talmud torah, (because it keeps your child from being influenced by the non-frum world, or for whatever other reason).

If anyone has discussed this with a Rabbi before, or would like to now, I'd like to hear what he has to say.  I would ask myself but I think most Rabbis would be reluctant to respond to an anonymous blogger.