The JTA published an article this week, sponsored by and produced in partnership with the Avi Chai Foundation, entitled “Five innovative ways Jewish day schools are reducing tuition costs.”
The article was a summary roundup. The five discrete methods that are showcased bring no new information to regular readers of this weekly update. Indeed, the fifth innovative way cited is the successful experiment with tuition at TanenbaumCHAT two years ago. So revolutionary were the results from the CHAT initiative, they opened eyes throughout the Diaspora.
The true importance of the article is in the fact that it was published at all. It demonstrates yet again the near ubiquity throughout North America of the urgency to deal with the unaffordability of Jewish education for middle class families. As it has in the GTA, the problem has ascended to the top priority of community decision-makers who have come to understand if there is no future for diverse day schools, there is no future for a diverse Jewish community.
The five methods listed are:
• Put a cap on it – At Westchester Day School in Mamaroneck, New York, the elementary school offers a limit on how much parents must pay as a percentage of their income.
• Cut in half, then give it back – Basic economic theory posits that if you cut the price of something, demand surges. If it rises enough, increased revenue offsets the reduced sticker price. That’s the theory behind a program at the San Diego Jewish Academy to cut the cost of tuition by 50 percent.
• Get rid of the frills and tinker with the learning model – Much has been written about schools that achieve major tuition savings by slimming down the administration and pursuing other cost savings.
• Get the state to pay for it – In recent years Jewish day schools have been increasingly successful at winning public money for a whole range of purposes, from security to technology education to nursing assistance. But states with tax-credit scholarship programs can bring cost savings to a whole other level. (GAJE’s decision to use the courts to try to compel the Government of Ontario to pay to independent schools a portion of the cost of educating students in the public schools falls within this category.)
• Use philanthropy to reduce cost barriers to enrolment – In Toronto, two donors gave $15 million (Canadian) in 2017 to reduce tuition by more than one-third at TanenbaumCHAT, one of the only non-Orthodox day schools there. Enrollment surged.
Good luck to all the schools wherever situated, in their efforts to bring more students to Jewish learning. The greater their success, the greater will be the prospects for the Jewish future.
The full article is available at:
GAJE, November 8, 2019