Friday, March 30, 2012

Signs of Life From SACS

A reader sent in the letter below which was sent by SACS recently.  Seems like they are being a bit more cautious than last year.  

What I don't understand is that they expect to get a "reasonable sense on the final approval status as early as mid June."  So when do they get final approval? In August?  What happens to the teachers & faculty they supposedly hired if they find out in August that it's not opening?  What about the students?  Hopefully their parents will have the sense to double-register.  Are parents willing to send their kids without having met a single administrator or teacher, or even knowing where the school is going to be?

Progress towards opening in September 2012 is going very well and on schedule.

All of our Administration and most of the Staff are still lined up and applications continue to come in to fill any vacancies.

Following another round of in-district applications, announcements will be made of admission of students from the out of district waiting list – if there are any remaining seats. Registration will occur in late spring – Shalom Academy will provide you with registration guidelines to secure the spot (district transfer cards, proofs of age and residency). For now, your in-district spots are being held and no action must be taken.

Our current phase involves demonstrating to the NJ State DOE and Bergen County DOE that the school has achieved all of the necessary preparedness steps and is indeed ready to open. Our Administration, and Immersion and Development teams have been working very hard to ensure successful navigation of this process including mandatory weekly seminars and workshops in Trenton and Washington, DC.

Last year this phase was navigated successfully with only 1 deficiency - a limit to the number of students that was far below our actual enrollment was added to our Certificate of Occupancy.

We have already leased a new facility, and last week underwent a preliminary site evaluation - the outcome was extremely favorable.

It is likely that we will be able to get a reasonable sense on the final approval status as early as mid June – less likely but possible as early as mid May.

There is every indication, and we are optimistic, that we will be able to receive this approval – and efforts to get an advance ruling are underway. However, as we found last year, there is no guarantee that the school will receive this approval.

In the event that there is any indication that we will be unable to open in September we will inform you immediately. Similarly, if we are clear that opening is definite, that information will be released immediately.

We look forward to a positive result from the DOE and passing on this great news to you. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Part 2 of South Florida Hebrew Charters

Sorry I haven't had time to write any  original posts lately.  I've been very busy lately but hopefully I'll have more time after Pesach when the schools should be coming out with the new tuition schedules.

Anyway here's part 2 of Julie Wiener's article on the Ben Gamla network of Hebrew charters in Florida.

One thing I didn't know about until I read this article was the Hebrew Charter School Center which is based in New York and has as its mission "to help advance the Hebrew language charter school movement".  They helped get the Hebrew charters in Brooklyn & East Brunswick off the ground.  But of course their website doesn't acknowledge the existence of any charters that are supposedly going to open in Bergen County at some point in the future.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Florida Adds Another Hebrew Charter

Julie Weiner reports in the Jewish Week about another Ben Gamla school opening in Florida.  This one, in Boynton, is the fourth  Ben Gamla school & the 7th  Hebrew Charter in the  US.  As usual there are various special interests trying to stop it.

How do we get these people to come  up to Bergen County to show us how its done?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nepotism Laws

There's been a lot of discussions lately in Northern NJ municipalities of creating anti-nepotism laws.  Reading about them made me think about nepotism in our own schools.  We all know stories about people hired or a vendor being used because he is someone's cousin or brother-in-law.  The person hiring them probably thinks that they are being very generous & helping out a relative in need, but they are helping them with other people's money - the tuition payers' money.  They should be generous with their own money.  NJ is starting to crack down on nepotism in the public schools & charter schools, & we should be doing the same.  
Though nepotism has been a way of life in some New Jersey school districts, there are signs that change may be coming.
A bill being considered by the state Assembly would prohibit the state’s charter schools and 588 school districts from hiring staff who are related to the superintendent, a board member, personnel director, business administrator or the school district’s attorney.
According to the legislation, a relative is defined in the bill as a person’s child, sibling, parent, extended family, in-law, half- or stepchild, domestic partner, and anyone else related to the individual or their spouse "by blood, marriage or adoption."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Letter from He'atid on Scholarships

Dear Parents,

Yeshivat He’Atid is committed to opening its doors to all Jewish children regardless of the ability of their parent’s to pay full tuition. This has been made possible by a couple of very generous donors who have stepped forward to fully fund scholarship aid. As a reminder, Yeshivat He’Atid is NOT using tuition dollars to pay for financial aid.

Yeshivat He’Atid’s scholarship policy is in line with those of the community - we expect families to pay the maximum possible, viewing their financial obligations to the Yeshiva as a basic living expense, taking priority over any type of non-essential spending.

Please see the communal letter (BELOW) that was sent out last year for further information.

While we remain committed to helping those truly in need, we ask that families consider very carefully before applying whether or not they meet the appropriate criteria. By asking for financial aid, you are asking for charity and you should view it as such. If there are items in your family budget that you would not feel comfortable asking your neighbors to help subsidize, you should be cutting these first before applying for scholarship aid.

As has become the community standard, scholarship applications will be done entirely on-line at This will allow us to better compare families with similar circumstances (while acknowledging that no two situations are identical), keep better historical records, save on manual input time from our business office, and provide a common application that will be shared among schools with overlapping families.

Financial aid applications are due no later than April 10Th. All information will be kept in the strictest of confidence. The scholarship committee will be meeting right after Pesach to review applications and an in-person interview will in all likelihood be required before aid is awarded.

None of the above is meant to discourage families who are truly in need from applying. If after careful consideration of your family finances, you have honestly concluded that you can’t afford to pay tuition in full, please don’t hesitate to apply by the April 10Th deadline.

If after careful consideration of your family finances, you have honestly concluded that you can’t afford to pay tuition in full and you need help applying or have any questions, please send us an email to .

Thank you,
Yeshivat He'Atid Tuition Committee

[Update: I posted the "Communal Letter" referred to above after the jump]

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Khan Academy: The future of education?

Hero of He'atid featured on 60 Minutes:

Monday, March 12, 2012

BPY Announces 2012/2013 Tuition

While they haven't yet updated it on their website, Ben Porat Yosef sent out a letter last week announcing the tuition for next year.

There are no increases in tuition for any grades!

The other schools should be announcing within the next couple of weeks. Word on the street is that Yavneh will do another tiny decrease.

I think we're finally getting through to the administrators that they can't keep raising tuition & expecting the community to be able to afford it. They are starting to cut costs & it's actually making a difference. Let's keep up the pressure so they don't fall back on bad habits.

[UPDATE: Letter & fee schedule are now online.]

Friday, March 9, 2012

Early Childhood Conference

On Monday Moriah, Noam, BPY & Yavneh will not have pre-school classes because of the Early Childhood Development conference. If you calculate how much each school spends per day per child, based on 170 school days and 60 kids each in pre-k and Kindergarten just giving the day off is a cost to each schools families of about $10,000. That's in addition to whatever it costs to bring in "experts" to talk to the teachers. Is this really necessary? Can't all the sage wisdom the experts have to offer be put into written form that the teachers can read on their own time?

I'd like to hear from teachers what exactly they learned in these conferences that justifies the cost & why this information couldn't be read in an article & had to be taught at a conference.

I didn't see anything on YNJ's website about it. Can someone confirm that they are not participating? It would be nice to see some signs that "groupthink" hasn't completely infected every school.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yet Another JDS Opens in BC

This was announced in the Comments section but I want to post it to make sure everyone knows about it.  Chaim Winthrop announces:

Tired of all this talk about saving money on yeshiva tuition? Come check out a new school where you'll never have to hear about cost cutting again!

Freilicha Purim everyone!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Christie on School Vouchers

Kind of hard to hear.  An article about it can be found here.

This is only for "poor students" as the article makes clear.  Not sure what qualifies a student as "poor" but if the program succeeds it could be a gateway for a more broad voucher program.

The question is would vouchers have any significant impact on tuition in our schools?  I doubt it.  In these times of budget cuts I don't see where the money would come from.  We're better off looking for sources within our community than from Trenton.