Thursday, February 21, 2013

Update From Yeshivat Winthrop

Inspired by Noam's event from last night, the Winthrop Yeshiva is getting in on the action!

Purim Sameach!!

The Winthrops

Our Children's Education:
The Yellow Brick Road to Affordability
Sunday, February 24th, 2013, at 4pm, in the Winthrop Yeshiva Ballroom

The theme of the conference is:
Ad D'lo Yada: Why it makes perfect sense for the most expensive school in town to host a conference on tuition affordability.

Catering by Foremost Expensive Caterers
Full open bar - Top Shelf Liquors
Couvert: $2500 per person
(Note: cost for Winthrop Yeshiva families is covered by the $5000 per family Tuition Affordability Fee)

Speakers include:
  • Warren Buffett: Paying Your Fair Share of Tuition
  • Chaim Winthrop: Blended Learning?  I Prefer Single Malt
  • Assemblyman Shmuel Sheyster: How To Get Taxpayers to Pay Your Tuition Bills
  • Rabbi Josh Pruzansky: Please Don’t Confuse Me With That Other Rabbi
Co-Sponsored by:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Classroom Technology

The Jewish Standard reports on  the very generous donation of iPads to Noam, Yavneh and Frisch by local chemist Dan Fried.  Children have these tools available all the time & it's critical that they learn how to use them for educational purposes like doing math and research and not just for playing fruit ninja. I've seen first hand how computer games help children learn how to read & research topics they are learning.  Tools for Jewish studies are also becoming increasingly available online.  I also think the idea of video conferencing with teachers in Israel and around the world is a great idea as well.  You could also have students who are home sick attend classes via their iPads.

The article suggests that technology can be used to reduce tuition costs though it didn't specify how, since no one is suggesting eliminating teaching positions and replacing them with the computers.  He'atid has long promised to use technology to reduce costs by eliminating the need for a resource room though the resource room costs are small compared to the overall budget.

So far the best example I've seen of technology being used to reduce tuition costs is provided by Yeshivat Avir Yakov in New Square. As reported in The Jewish Week "since 1998, been allotted more than $3.3 million in government funds earmarked for Internet and other telecommunications technology."  What's even better is that they don't have a single computer available for the children! So technology funds go directly to tuition reduction without losing anything to the pesky middleman of computers or iPads!

Monday, February 11, 2013

NNJKIDS Awareness Month

If you haven't already, expect a hard sell for NNJKIDS from your local schools and shuls this month.  For those who don't know about it, NNJKIDS is a fund that collects money from the community and distributes it to the local day schools.  More info can be found on the JFEG website.

I favor an all-in approach to the tuition crisis so that means working on both the revenue and the expense sides of the ledger.  Bear in mind that every tax-deductible dollar we donate is one less taxable dollar that we have to give in the form of tuition.

Anyway here's the pitch from Yavneh:

Yavneh Academy - ישיבת יבנה
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Along with the other day schools in Bergen County, we continue to seek solutions to the issue of Day School affordability.  To that end, we continue to partner with JewishEducation For Generations (JEFG), which seeks to develop transformational solutions that will ensure the future of our schools.

The impact of our relationship with JEFG has been strong and meaningful.  Working together, we have made advances in reducing our costs and limiting our tuition increases.  Specifically, their fundraising arm, NNJKIDS has successfully engaged our total community in the critical need to help fund the $8 million of scholarships our Day Schools award each year.  NNJKIDS has received contributions from over 1,500 families across our community and has distributed over $1,500,000 to our area’s schools.  NNJKIDS also demonstrates important unity and establishes Day Schools as a priority in our community. Its success serves as a catalyst for all other important JEFG initiatives.

While this is strong progress, we must increase the funding support we get from the broader community.  As we did last year, we will focus attention on this issue by dedicating February as NNJKIDS Awareness Month, a community-wide series of events encompassing synagogues and day schools, all focused on raising funds to support local Jewish Day School education.

Yavneh Academy has been a beneficiary of NNJKIDS and is actively participating in this exciting program. Our tzedaka funds collected in classrooms throughout February will be earmarked for support of NNJKIDS. 

The key to the success of NNJKIDS and the future of our children's education is total communal support.  Our goal is to double the number of NNJKIDS subscribers and ease the burden of day school tuition.

If you have not yet signed up as a regular contributor to NNJKIDS, please visit to subscribe today.

Eric Fremed, President
Rabbi Jonathan Knapp, Principal

Sunday, February 10, 2013

SAR Tuition Remains Flat

SAR has finally decided to join the BC schools in freezing tuition.  This is the first time this is happening and it is happening coincidentally the same year an affordable day school is opening up in Westchester.

Glad to hear that the "progressive" tuition increase I heard about is not happening.

Dear Parents,

We are delighted to let you know that the 2013-14 Budget was approved by the Board of Trustees earlier this week.  After careful analysis and review of expected revenues and expenses, the tuition at the Academy will remain flat (0% increase) and the High School tuition will increase by $400 (a 1.3% increase).

The process of budgeting is always a challenge and we thank the Finance Committee for the substantial time and effort they put into compiling an optimal budget for our school.  The budgeting process is a balancing exercise- seeking to ensure the high quality education which SAR is known for while at the same time remaining responsive to the financial needs of our parents.

The key components of next year’s budget include:
  1. A 2% increase in staff salaries.  SAR’s mandate is to provide a high quality education in secular and Judaic studies in an environment that elicits the best from each child.  The heart of our school is our dedicated teachers who engage our students and bring the SAR education to life. 
  2. A $400,000 reduction in other expenses, including the elimination of the teacher child care program.
  3. An increase of $250,000 from annual fundraising.  With the Bendheim Challenge Grant having come to a close, we are hopeful that families who made commitments for capital will now turn their efforts to increased annual gifts to support SAR.
  4. An on-going commitment to funding the scholarship needs of our new and existing families.  For 2013-14 we have budgeted $6.1 million dollars of scholarship assistance up from approximately $3.5 million budgeted five years ago.  This level is approximately flat with last year.
We remain encouraged by the longer term outlook for increased government funding for day schools, either through tax credit or through increases in reimbursements through mandates. SAR is actively involved in leading an effort through TeachNYS to lobby for increased government funding for all private schools.  

We will continue to explore longer term opportunities for cost savings and revenue enhancements so long as they do not compromise our core values—a high quality secular and Jewish education, inclusivity of ALL children, regardless of educational or financial needs and the fair treatment of our extraordinary teachers and staff.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and enjoyable February break.

Jack Bendheim
Rabbi Tully Harcsztark
Rabbi Binyamin Krauss