Monday, August 27, 2012

Repayment of Financial Assistance

Jake Goldstein wrote an op-ed in the Jewish Press suggesting that parents who are on financial assistance be asked nicely every year to donate to the school even after their children graduate, to compensate the school for the tuition assistance that they received.  As he admits, parents struggling to pay for elementary school education are going to have an even harder time paying for high school, college, weddings, etc.  so most of them wont have much disposable income left over for donations.  However for the few whose fortunes turn around and they suddenly have money available for donations, their first priority for donations should be the schools that helped them out when they couldn't pay full freight.  So his suggestion, while not a "solution", should still be pursued.  It only costs a few stamps every year & if it helps get one parent to repay a few thousand dollars, it's worth it.

Click on the link above t read the whole article.  Here's an excerpt of the upshot:

1. A new clause should be included in the tuition reduction form which parents would agree to in writing accepting a moral commitment to make a sincere and good faith ‘best efforts’ to pay back as much of the accumulated tuition reduction as possible by making the school a top priority recipient of their discretionary charitable donations, now and upon leaving the school.
2. Accumulated tuition reduction would then be tracked throughout the duration of the parents’ tenure at the school.
3. On every Elul thereafter, including after their youngest child graduates, parents would receive a statement reminder quantifying the accumulated tuition assistance they received and the years in which it was received, along with the accumulated donations they have given toward their moral obligation.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Jewish Week Covers "Tuition Crisis"

The Jewish Week has a special section on education where they discuss blended learning in general and Yeshivat He'atid in particular.  They even give a shout-out to this blog so I thought I'd return the favor.  They mention the He'atid clones trying to open in New Rochelle, Long Island, Massachusetts & LA.  Also interesting to learn that YU is starting a certificate program for online/blended instruction for Yeshiva Day Schools.  You can read the whole section here:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

By the Sweat of Thy Brow Shalt Thou Eat Bread

Kudos to the team of volunteers staying up late last night assembling tables and the many computers to prepare for the big opening on September 4th.  Admins were there working hard as well.   Even Rabbi Gralla was busy vacuuming!  This "sweat equity" will help defray costs.  It was the model for the "cooperative yeshiva" they tried to start in West Orange last year.  I encourage everyone to come Monday night to finish up.  Even if you don't have kids going there its a fun way to help a local Yeshiva and to work on the tuition crisis in a small way, but in a way more useful than kvetching.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Video an Example of Fiscal Prudence?

He'atid is encouraging volunteers to help assemble furniture and computers at the school to reduce costs of hiring outside vendors.  And I'm guessing from the quality of the video below that it was done by a volunteer as well.  We've done posts about marketing expenses and whether or not its really worth it for schools to pay to have slick videos produced to market the schools.  Hopefully He'atid can utilize the volunteer army they are assembling to help  make good on the cost reductions they promised.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Novel Concept: Fee for Services

Yavneh sent out an email (after the jump) stating that they are "thrilled" to inform about a fee for service program for speech/language therapy and occupational therapy for students who do not qualify for county sponsored programs.

This is a welcome change from the trend of the past few decades of everything moving to the communal pot, which is part of what caused tuitions to skyrocket.  Therapy for students that don't qualify for county subsidies are really somewhat of a luxury and should be paid for by the individual parents rather than burdening everyone else with them  Personally, I would make music & art a fee-for-service as well.

It would be nice to see the public schools move some extra-curricular activities to fee for service as well rather than having taxpayers pay for everything but that's a topic for another blog.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

We previously discussed a He'atid clone in Silver Spring which unfortunately will not be opening this coming fall because of insufficient enrollment, according to their website.

However, there is one looking to open next fall in the 5 towns which is generating a huge buzz in that community.

Best of luck to them!  Hopefully they can endure all the negativity that is sure to be thrust their way.

[Update: there's a pretty serious group trying to start up another He'atid clone in New Rochelle, NY. Good luck to them as well!]

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Moriah's Crackdown on Tuition Thieves

See email from Moriah below.

Glad to see them taking some action against those who would steal from the communal pot in what they call "self-scholarships".  We can debate how much scholarships should be baked into tuition but I think we can agree that the system should be fair to everyone.  A scholarship committee should look at all applications and make decisions on how much to award based on need and how much scholarship funds are available.  People should not be allowed to take it upon themselves to give themselves scholarships.  Not allowing children into classes should certainly be a last resort but it's an option that should not be taken off the table.

PS they finally posted the 2012-2013 tuition schedule.  See link on the right.

The Moriah School
August 2, 2012
14 Menachem AV 5772

Dear Parents, 

We at Moriah are very fortunate to be part of a school that is committed to being at the forefront of educational innovation, providing our children with the very best education around. Balancing the realities of the cost of education with the needs of our parent body, especially during these challenging financial times, our dedicated Financial Aid Committee works hard to ensure that every family who wants the opportunity to be part of Moriah is able to afford to do so.    

Unfortunately, a recent phenomenon has emerged, whereby parents avoid the financial aid process and deviate from the payment amount and/or the payment schedule that they have committed to.  We have coined a term for this type of unilateral action -- "self-scholarship." As you can imagine, self-scholarship is extremely damaging to our school, since tuition is our primary source of income and unexpected shortfalls directly impact the school's budget and ability to achieve its goals. It also is damaging to the wider school community, as it directly impacts the price of tuition and forces an additional burden on those in the majority who labor to pay tuition in full or responsibly seek assistance through proper channels.    

As this phenomenon has come to light, we are now putting in place a new policy to collect on outstanding balances, so that our school can be in a stronger financial position. Over the next week, we will be contacting those families who have accrued obligations via self-scholarship; a payment schedule will be offered and consequences in the case of default will be communicated and enforced. Moving forward, all tuition payment obligations must be met in a timely fashion or children will not be allowed to join their class until balances are cleared.     

For those of our parents who have chosen to self-scholarship due to financial stress, we understand that applying for financial aid may be a difficult and perhaps demoralizing process, but avoiding the process altogether is unfair to our school and to the larger school community. Moriah is fortunate to have a Financial Aid committee that dedicates countless hours to creating standards and assessing every case with extreme care. They deliver creative and sensitive solutions that incorporate both the best interest of the school and of the families who are requesting aid.    

Moriah is constantly striving to move forward and improve. While this new policy may be difficult for some of our families, we hope the community understands the need for having such a policy in place at this juncture. Let's continue to work together to ensure that our children get the best Jewish day school experience possible.    

Thank you,    
Evan H. Sohn  President, Board of Trustees    
Jay M. Goldberg  Chairman, Board of Trustees

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

He'atid's Fundraising

I know I said I was taking a break but I thought everyone should see the email below.

I think it makes sense that He'atid first set the tuition price & then sought donors to make it happen, rather than doing the reverse.  If you seek donors & hope to use their donations to make the school more affordable you won't collect as much.  Donors are worried that their money will be used to hire friends & relatives of admins to unnecessary positions.  But if you start with an affordable price you will attract more donations to help make it work.  The donors know that money isn't being wasted if the base tuition is so much lower than the other Yeshivas in the area.

August 7, 2012

Dear Supporters and Friends,

This September, Yeshivat He’Atid will provide Jewish communities nationwide with a groundbreaking new model for high quality, affordable Jewish day school education. We’re re-imagining the Jewish day school classroom of the 21st Century. Opening with 110 students in our first year, Yeshivat He’Atid will save the community an astonishing $600,000 this year alone! When fully built out, Yeshivat He’Atid is estimated to save the community $5 million annually. We have hired a principal, teachers, and staff; ensured our facility is student-ready, and put in place the tools and curriculum to support our blended learning model.

Yeshivat He’Atid benefits the entire community. Since Yeshivat He’Atid came on the scene, several schools have lowered tuition and others increased the hours children spend in school. The schools in our community continue to make efficiency strides, and blended learning is on the rise. We take pride in these accomplishments; our mission has always been to advance the community.

The school’s impact transcends this community. Lay leaders and educators across the country are watching our progress with much enthusiasm. Yeshivat He’Atid’s goal has always been to see its model replicated in other Jewish communities. We are in contact with 10 Yeshivat He’Atid-style Jewish schools that are in the planning phases in places such as L.A., San Antonio, and Boston.

National organizations are taking notice. Yeshivat He’Atid is grateful for early support from The Avi Chai Foundation to hire blended learning experts to develop our educational model. We are thankful to the Orthodox Union for providing seed funding to develop blended learning Judaic studies curricula. Our efforts have also inspired a group of philanthropists to form the Affordable Jewish Education Project, whose mission is to help schools like us grow to a point of sustainability.

We need your support. Launching a new school necessitates significant start-up costs. We salute the many donors who have recognized the importance of this groundbreaking initiative and have generously contributed $1.3 million to date. We now ask the broader community to join our efforts to revolutionize Jewish day school education while also making it affordable. Please help us raise additional funds to continue to build out our blending learning model and help other schools replicate our efforts. Your tax-deductible donation will be matched dollar for dollar, ensuring that the community provides our children with educational excellence that is sustainable.

With gratitude, The Board of Directors, Yeshivat He’Atid
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Your Contribution Will Make A Difference – Every Dollar Counts
Every year, the Jewish community spends $2 billion on Jewish education. Our goal is to enhance Jewish day school education while simultaneously lowering costs.

Checks can be mailed to:
 Yeshivat He’Atid
 139 South Washington Avenue
 Bergenfield, NJ 07621

You may also donate online with a credit card:

Friday, August 3, 2012

More Legislative Solutions

The Jewish Standard reported on more legislative solutions from the OU to the tuition crisis, a topic we covered back in January.  We should support their efforts and get involved in politics so maybe we can actually help ourselves a little.  Kudos to Dr.Simcha Katz for pushing this.

Of course we need to push schools to cut costs as well but that doesn't mean that other avenues shouldn't be explored.

One thing under consideration that I didn't know about until I saw this article is the Opportunity Scholarship Act.  Click on the link to learn more about it & support it.

Here are some excerpts from the Jewish Standard article:


Last month, Pruzansky heralded the inclusion of a $20 per capita technology grant for the state’s private schools in the state budget. But another measure, the Opportunity Scholarship Act, now seems dormant until after the November election, following Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver’s refusal to advance it for a vote.

As the bill now is drafted, it would provide scholarships for private schools to up to 20,000 students, a quarter of them now enrolled in private schools, in specified school districts that include the heavily Orthodox districts of Lakewood and Passaic, but not the richer Jewish communities in Bergen County.

Elsewhere across the country, the OU has been involved in successful legislative efforts that are bringing money into day school coffers.

In April, the OU joined in helping to pass what has been described as the nation’s largest voucher program, in Louisiana. It was introduced and promoted by the state’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal. The measure gained the support of the state’s non-Orthodox Jewish community, including the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of New Orleans.

The OU also has set up offices in Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania in the last six months. According to Litwak, this reflects the priorities of the OU’s president, Dr. Simcha Katz of Teaneck.

“This is a primary part of his presidency,” Litwak said.

While the OU is making this a signature issue, Pruzansky said that state aid to day schools, and the increased voter participation that would make it happen, is not “simply an Orthodox issue. Every community that has a day school should feel the need to get out and vote. Achieving our goals will help all non-public schools and their families better afford an education that we feel best suits the needs of our children.”
In March, the community federation convened a meeting of representatives of day schools statewide to discuss political action. Subsequently, at least some area schools sent out emails to their parent bodies highlighting the importance of voting in local elections.
Also this summer, the OU has launched another effort touching on day school affordability. In conjunction with the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, it has started the Day School Affordability Knowledge Center to spread information about existing affordability initiatives.