Monday, April 30, 2012

Teaneck Council Election May 8

Teaneck has an election for Town Council on Tuesday, May 8th.  I urge all readers from Teaneck to vote in that election.  While most of us do not have children in the public school system we are still affected by public policy as we’ve discussed when it comes to vouchers, aid to private schools for technology, charter schools, etc.  While many of these items are decided by the local school boards or at the state level there is still a significant amount of influence that the local town council has on these decisions.  Deadline for a Vote-by-maill application is tomorrow, May 1st.  Download an application here:

Last week I sent out an email to the candidates running for council asking them their positions on these issues.  I will post the responses as I get them.  I understand that people get a little emotional when it comes to politics but please try to keep the comments respectful.  The candidates have taken time to address our issues and we should try to comment on them with derech eretz.  Comments with personal attacks will be deleted. Here’s the letter:


Dear Teaneck Council candidates,

I am writing to you as the moderator of a blog that discusses Jewish Day Schools in Bergen County (  The site gets about 1,000 hits a day, mostly from parents of day school students.  Teaneck residents make up the largest share of the parent body.
I was hoping you could address some of the issues that affect parents of non-public school children that you could impact in your capacity as council members.  While I understand that many of these issues are better addressed by the school board, I understand that the Town Council has some say in the matters as well, especially in years when the public gets to vote on the school budget and the council gets to alter it in the event that it gets voted down.
Some of the issues are:

            1.   Courtesy busing for private schools.  Do you favor keeping it even in times of fiscal austerity?

2.       Charter schools – do you think a virtual charter could be based in Teaneck?  (Obviously the cost of it would have to be borne by all the municipalities where the students come from and not just Teaneck)

       What about charter schools with Hebrew immersion or other languages?

       Do you support vouchers in general?  (Not really a Teaneck issue but as a local politician State & Federal officials may seek your input)

       There was a bill in the NJ legislature (A238) that would reinstate $7M in non-public school technology aid to NJ school districts that was cut from the state budget in 2010.  Would you support a bill like that?

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my questions. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

RYNJ Announces 2012/2013 Budget

Thanks CJ for posting this letter.  I moved it from the comments section to a new Post so everyone would see it.  

April 27, 2012

Dear RYNJ Parents,

This past week, the Board of Directors adopted a budget for the 2012 – 2013 school year. As guardians of our children’s and grandchildren's education, we are committed to ensuring that the Yeshiva's finances remain on solid footing. To that end, the administration and board worked tirelessly to find ways to contain costs while continuing to maintain and improve upon our excellent educational standards.

I am pleased to report that tuition at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey will remain flat for the upcoming school year. The only exception is the decrease in fees that was announced in our Preschool Enrollment Package last fall. We are proud to have had no significant increase for the past 4 years and we remain committed to keeping our tuition steady for the foreseeable future. 

In a show of appreciation to our dedicated staff, the new budget provides for pay raises as well as funding for teacher training and professional development to further our goal of continuous improvement. In order to serve the needs of our children, we plan to undertake a number of small building construction projects this summer. These will include an expansion of the lunchroom, renovation of some of our student restroom facilities and updating the outdoor play area with new surfacing. 

In an effort to simplify our fee structure and in response to concerns expressed by members of our parent body, the Board of Directors has voted to implement the following changes and procedures: 

1) Elimination of Incidental Fees – Tuition payments now include all incidental fees. Fees for trips, special projects, siyumim, and snacks will no longer be collected from parents throughout the school year. Our administration and board have put a great deal of effort into finding funding for these items in the budget so
that parents will not be subject to small payments throughout the year. Please
note that this is a pilot program and that it does not include any PTA programs
or graduation trips and fees. 

2) Building Fund Payment Structure – As an accommodation to new RYNJ parents, the $8000 Building Fund will now be payable over 8 years and will be billed at $1000 a year beginning in the oldest child’s Kindergarten year. This replaces the current payment schedule that requires a $2000 payment in the first year and a $1000 payment in successive years. 

3) Consolidation of Fees – In order to simplify our fee structure, the annual dinner
journal obligation of $850 and security fee of $400 will be combined into one family obligation of $1250. Payment of this fee entitles parents to 2 nontransferable tickets to the dinner and a $250 ad credit. Families whose oldest
child is in Nursery or Pre-K will have a family obligation of $400.

4) FACTS – RYNJ has partnered with FACTS, a well-known tuition management company used by many area schools to process tuition payments. Families who pay their tuition through auto-matic bank payments will now enroll with FACTS to ease the payment process. Parents will have access to a convenient online payment plan sign up, a plan administrator who will be available for issues like holding a payment and email reminders when payments will be with-drawn. Additional information on FACTS will be forthcoming in June with tuition contracts. 

We extend gratitude to our Finance Committee who worked tirelessly to prepare a budget that is fiscally responsible, recognizes and appreciates our staff’s dedication and maintains our commitment to Torah scholarship and academic excellence, while being sensitive to the hardship that paying for a Yeshiva edu-cation may create. 

We are excited that projected enrollment for 2012-2013 is once again at a record high and with the help of our administration, faculty and staff, we remain dedicated to providing all RYNJ students with a first class Limudei Kodesh and Limudei Chol education. We strongly believe that every Jewish child deserves a Torah education. If this proves to be a burden to any family we will offer financial assistance to those in need. 

With the help of the Ribbono Shel Olam, may we all be blessed with a successful year and continued nachas from our children. I invite and encourage you to contact me with any comments, questions or concerns.

Rabbi Yehuda Rosenbaum, President

Friday, April 27, 2012

JEC in Elizabeth Announces 2012/2013 Tuition

JEC announced its 2012/2013 tuition schedule (after the jump).  The Goldbergs would be paying 33,500* per year.  A lot of money but still $12K less than most BC schools.

Only 38 minutes from Teaneck according to Google Maps (without traffic, of course). That's actually 4 minutes less than JFS (sorry Avi).

I can't speak to the quality of the education or their "educational philosophy" but the hashkafa seems to be similar to the BC MO schools if their website is any indication.

*includes $1800 discount for 3+ kids, $100 new student application fee youngest & $2400 estimate for lunch not shown on the schedule

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"Goldbergs" Make Aliyah

In honor of Yom Ha'atzmaut I just wanted to point out that if the "Goldbergs" from yesterday's post were living in Israel and sending their kids to Dati Leumi schools, they would be paying a quarter as much in tuition and fees as they are at BPY.  About 12,000 according to a source in Israel, mostly for the little one.

And they would be paying that in shekels rather than dollars!

Chag Sameach everyone!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How Much Do the Goldbergs Have To Pay?

In order to do a basis of comparison for tuition in various schools on an apples-to-apples basis we need to make certain assumptions.  I’m going to compare all the fees based on a family of 5 not on scholarship & not getting any staff discounts.  Family has 3 children are in Pre-K, 2nd grade and 5th grade.  They attend the annual dinner every year and use the gift cards thru the Scrip program to buy things they were buying anyway (let’s ignore the credit card discounts they are passing up).  And let’s assume they want to keep all of their kids in the same school.  The 2 older kids attended the school since Kindergarten and the 3rd is a new student.  They make all payments on time and register as early as possible.  They don’t have a business thru which they can purchase ads in the dinner journal.  They want to purchase hot lunches for their kids every day but without pizza or any other special type.  Let’s call them the Goldbergs.  For 2012/2013 if they send their kids to BPY the Goldbergs will have to pay $47,315 (calculations after the jump).

When the other schools upload their tuition schedules we’ll see how the other schools stack up.  We can’t do He’atid because they don’t have a 2nd or 5th grade but we all know they are much less.

Assumptions were random & any similarity to any real family is purely coincidental.  I’m just trying to cut thru the confusopoly*.

* "a group of companies with similar products who intentionally confuse customers instead of competing on price" 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Moriah's Excuses

See letter below that went to Moriah parents.  I just want to add that last year Moriah sent out a letter implying that tuition had to go up because they were losing students to SACS and had fixed costs that had to be spread among fewer parents.  They hinted that it could be reversible if SACS didn't open.  SACS didn't open and they increased tuition again.

Also, if the budget went down why is there a need for an increase?  Did scholarship demand go up or donations go down so much in one year?

Dear Fellow Moriah Parents:
Last evening, the Board of Trustees adopted a budget for the coming academic year. This is a challenging process recognizing the inherent hurdle of balancing academic excellence with our commitment to keep a Moriah education accessible to all and being fiscally responsible. We believe the guiding principles employed throughout the process serve us well. They are as follows:
 · Continually advance our program
 · Maintain our financial needs-blind policy
 · Minimize financial impact to parents
 · Treat staff respectfully
The board meeting was the final step in an extensive process that began in December. The administration, finance committee and executive committee, invested significant time and effort to ensure that we meet all of the primary objectives. It is imperative to note that as part of the process we have challenged all material operating expenses and have made cuts, as appropriate, while maintaining the quality of education. Over the past three years, we have reduced our overall budget from 15 million to 13.3 million dollars and we continue to explore additional reductions which will not have a negative impact on our educational program. 
We are pleased to be offering our faculty and staff a modest salary increase for the coming year.  Moriah continues to lead our Bergen County peer schools in overall compensation packages. This will allow Moriah to continue to attract and retain the best faculty and administration. 

Factoring these changes, gaining staffing efficiencies as well as operating expense cuts, tuition will need to be increased for grades 1 - 5 and grades 6 - 8 by $600 and $800, respectively.  This increase honors our fiduciary responsibility of balancing continued academic excellence while controlling costs.


Despite the financial volatility in the world outside, there is the gratification within our school - that eager students continue to be challenged and engaged in meaningful learning. We are fortunate to have a dedicated administrative team and an equally talented teaching staff.

Special thanks to Yussie Leiser, whose financial acumen and historical understanding of the budget are unparalleled. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the administrative team and business office who labored tirelessly in arriving at a fiscally responsible budget. Finally, thank you to the Board of Trustees, Executive and Finance committees for their dedication to this process. 

 Warmest Regards,


 Michael Goldsmith - President


 Jeremy Schwalbe - Chairman of the Board


 Dr. Elliot Prager - Principal

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's Official: $100 off Yavneh for 2012/2013

Here's the email sent  out last night:


Last night, the Yavneh Academy Board passed the budget for the upcoming 2012-13 fiscal year.
I am pleased to report that, thanks to our adherence to a balanced budget, Yavneh Academy is fiscally sound.  As a result of hard work and cooperation by Rabbi Knapp, Joel Kirschner,our Finance committee Chairman - Adam Fried, and others, we have once again struck the right balance between educational excellence and fiscal responsibility.

Yavneh broke new historic ground by being the first local Yeshiva Day School to cut tuition last year, and we continue to live up to our reputation for fiscal responsibility and affordable excellence by being the first school in the area to cut tuition two years in a row. The budget includes provisions for continuation of the recent significant cut in Early Childhood tuition (Pre K and Kindergarten) , a $100 tuition cut for grades 1-5 and a freeze on tuition for grades 6-8.

The new budget also provides for a raise for our hardworking faculty, a new Early Childhood Hebrew Immersion Specialist, and, for the first time in our history, a Development Director who will work side by side with Joel Kirschner, Rabbi Knapp, and our Development Committee to improve Yavneh’s fundraising efforts to ensure a Yeshiva Day School education for all who want it.

Great things are happening at Yavneh, and I encourage you to get involved in your children’s school, not only for their benefit, but for the benefit of generations to come.

Wishing everyone a wonderful end of year, and best of luck on the remainder of the academic success,

Eric Fremed

President, Yavneh Academy

Thursday, April 19, 2012

He'atid on the Potomac

The Washington Jewish Times reports on a new "affordable" Yeshiva opening this fall in the DC area.  They hope to maintain a $10k tuition by using some very familiar sounding methods.  It will start with 7th & 8th grade girls & IY"H will expand to become a high school for both boys and girls.

Affordable Orthodox day school slated to open in fall

by Emily Jacobs
Staff Writer

A new Jewish high school is set to open this fall, providing an Orthodox education to seventh and eighth grade girls. Named the National Torah Academy (NTA), the school will be located at Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim in Silver Spring and will eventually expand to a full high school with separate classes for both boys and girls.

With the major issue of affordable Jewish education on the rise, the creators of the NTA have come up with a tuition price of $10,000 a year, a 40 percent difference from other Orthodox high schools in the area.

Yaakov Lipman, the vice president of internal operations for the NTA, explained that the idea for this school did not come from parents, but rather from those in the area that wanted to design a school for the greater good of the community.

Lipman added that a group of people convened last year to discuss the existing issues in the community and "the tuition crisis was the elephant in the room, because it threatens the fabric of the Orthodox community and the Jewish identity of kids," he said.

"People are being forced to choose public school over the Jewish day schools based on tuition costs. The even larger problem is that people are being forced to reduce the size of their families based on tuition prices that continue to grow. The core of the issue is that people aren't having as many children as they would like because they see the tuition price on the horizon, and our goal is to help solve that crisis."

Lipman emphasized that a lower tuition cost does not mean a lower quality of education. Founders of the NTA came up with a plan to use four innovative models of education, that when put together will lower the cost of tuition while keeping the same high level of education in place.

The first is a style of education called blended learning. Students will get a combination of classic classroom education and innovative technological tools to get the best out of both. The second is higher salaries for teachers with fewer levels of administration.

"By doing this we can compete with the county to get top quality teachers who have master's degrees in education as a bare minimum requirement. By putting the best teachers in the classroom we're ensuring that the students will get the best education," said Lipman.

Third in the list is the integration of volunteerism wherever possible. Teachers aside, the majority of staff and faculty at the NTA will be professionals who have expertise in certain fields, and who have volunteered their services to the school.

"This saves us money but we also feel that it's important for the students to see volunteerism first hand in their education so they will learn to volunteer and be a part of the community as they grow up. The NTA was started by people who have volunteered themselves in the community, so we're hoping to education to next generation to follow suite," explained Lipman.

Finally, they have restructured the cost of tuition because in the current day school model, "a full paying tuition goes towards scholarship funds for tuition assistance of other students. While we believe in tuition assistance, we don't believe that it's the burden of the other parents in the school to shoulder alone, but rather that it should be fundraised from across the community," continued Lipman.

Leading the administration of the NTA is Rabbi Yehuda Waxman, head of school. Waxman, who has a master's degree in education and more than 13 years of experience in Jewish high schools, explained that he believes that "an excellence in education does not mean an enormity in tuition fees."

"We have a chance to really make a huge difference and to really offer an excellent and empowering education in kodesh and secular studies, where the students are the first, middle and last consideration in everything," he said.

Waxman added that students at the NTA will not learn how to cram and memorize information, but will be taught to think, understand and apply.

"We're going to be teaching them how to ask questions and find the answers themselves so that they will become independent thinkers."
Looking forward to the first day of school is Chanoch Kinovsky, community member and parent of a future NTA student. Kinovsky has been involved with the school since last September and explained that what drew him to the NTA was the focus on the quality of education and the integrative models they have set in place.

"I feel that the use of technology will prepare the students for the 21st century workforce. Additionally, I really want to see the school succeed because as a parent and a community member, I feel that it's important that the NTA is taking a look at the tuition crisis that we're all experiencing nationally and restructuring it to reasonably meet the needs of parents and shift the burden of the cost of Jewish education onto the community," he said.

Lipman explained that the name of the school reflects the goals of those at the NTA who want to have other schools follow their model on a national level.
"While we're in the nation's capitol, we plan to be a national model to show that a school can be built not just by parents but by a group of people in the community that want to build an excellent school and to show that they can follow our model and hopefully we'll all be able to relieve this problem nationally," Lipman said.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Frisch Schedule 2012/2013

Frisch announces a new schedule (after the jump).  Still off Isru Chag Labor Day and Erev Shavuot for inexplicable reasons.  Yeshiva Week is really 1.6 weeks.

No days off for Channukah "in order to fit in all the days we need for the year".  In other words they have the minimum amount of school days allowed by law.

The Yeshiva High Schools should be aware that the angry YDS parents will soon be angry YHS parents and we will be demanding more education for our exorbitant tuitions.  I know a lot of teachers are on board with more days as long as their kids' schools are off the same days so they have coverage.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Awaiting the 2012/2013 Fee Schedules

Welcome back everyone!

Well Pesach has come & gone & I still haven't seen or heard any announcements of the fee schedules for the upcoming school year from any of the local YDS's except He'atid and BPY.

Anyone else think it's odd that we are asked to give a non-refundable deposit for something that we don't even know the price for?  By the time they announce the prices it's too late for us to back out without  losing our deposits.  Is that even legal?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

BPY Schedule 2012/2013

 BPY Announced their schedule next year and it is in fact a big improvement!  We're getting closer to the 180 days that public school have. Curious to see how their price/day  will compare to the other schools when they announce the fee schedule after Pesach.  Hopefully the other schools will follow suit.  Here it is below: