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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Minimum Tuition Debate

The Fall 5766/2005 Jewish Action, featured an entire spread of articles on tuition and financial issues in yeshivot and day schools, appropriately titled "The Tuition Squeeze." One particular article, by Dr. Nachum Klafter of Cincinnati, entitled "In Defense of Tuition" prompted a continued debate in the Spring 5766/2006 issue of Jewish Action.

In the original article, Dr. Klafter (executive VP and education committee chairman for the Cincinnati Hebrew Day School Board) made the case that "Jewish Day School education is Orthodox Day School education is already highly subsidized." He referenced figures indicating that, on average, tuition payers in Orthodox schools are "paying just a little over half of the cost of the children's education [57%]." He asked "if it costs $13,000 to educate your son or daughter, how much of this money can you expect others to provide?" And, he made the case for minimum tuitions, writing "Many people I have spoken with consider me insensitive for suggesting that the school require a non-negotiable minimum tuition fee (below which no scholarships are available, regardless of income level) of 25 to 30 percent of the total amount it costs the school to educate a child." Lastly, Dr. Klafter makes the case that schools must operate as businesses, as uncollected tuitions threaten the very existence of the schools.

There is no doubt, in my mind at least, that this piece in Jewish Action was the most uncomfortable read. It challenged everyone directly involved in day schools and yeshivot: the administrators, the lay leaders, and the parents.

And, to date, this is the only article that has fueled further debate in the Letters to the Editor. The Vice President of Politz Day School in Cherry Hill, NJ, Dr. Noah Lindenberg, wrote to Jewish Action stating "I strongly disagree with Dr. Klafter when he suggests a minimum tuition policy. This self-destructive policy would inevitably preclude many well-meaning but poor children from obtaining the ultimate Jewish a value, a yeshivah education. Grants there will always be those who take advantage of lax tuition policies, but that is the price we must pay to ensure that not even one legitimate sutdnet is turned away because of a lack of means."

While my heart wants to agree with the challenger (Dr. Lindenberg), but my head gets in the way. My head tells me that minimum tuitions are fast becoming a necessity. As Dr. Klafter so aptly states is his response to the challenger, "Jewish Day Schools run on money-not on sentiment."

And, apparently, I am not alone in my thoughts on minimum tuitions. According to this article in Los Angeles's Jewish Journal, sent to me by a friend and loyal reader, minimum tuitions are soon to become a reality in some locales:


At Yeshiva Rav Isacsohn Toras Emes, the two principals, Rabbi Berish Goldenberg and Rabbi Yakov Krause, handle financial aid personally. Last year, the school allocated more than $2 million in tuition subvention. Goldenberg estimates that only 350 to 400 of his 1,100 students are paying full tuition, which added to fees comes to about $12,000 a year for the first child (as at most schools, there is a sibling discount and teachers get an automatic break).

The parent body includes many teachers at other schools, as well as rabbis and Jewish communal professionals who serve the wider community. Many of them have large families.

Toras Emes is currently phasing in a minimum tuition requirement of $3,500, so that every family is paying something. (Goldenberg expects exceptions to that minimum, too.)

Like most yeshivas, Toras Emes functions in the red, constantly begging and borrowing to make payroll and pay bills.


I don't doubt that LA's Toras Emes, a Yeshiva World school, is alone in having only a small percentage of students enrolled paying full tuition (32%, in this case). Nor do I doubt that Toras Emes is alone in its inability to make payroll, as I know a number of (now former) employees of a number of different Yeshivot that were never paid for their services. Unfortunately, lack of regular funding (tuition being a regular source) and payment for services, is a vicious cycle that feeds off each other, especially when those who need paid are tuition payers themselves!

The subject of minimum tuitions brings tears to my eyes. Dr. Lindenberg rightly points out that there will be casualties, if non-negotiable minimum tuitions were ever instituted. I already know of a family that is unable to enroll all of their children in day schools due to the minimum tuition offered by the school (I don't believe that there is an official minimum tuition policy in their community, but the minimal tuition required per child is well beyond their reach). This coming year, they will be homeschooling all of their children.

Yet, others rightly worry about the financial viability of current schools and worry about the future. Parents, even parents with respectable and steady incomes, are finding themselves stretched to the max, barely able to cover their own tuitions, much less tuitions for others. And, there are fewer and fewer gvirim who are able or willing to underwrite the operating costs of a school.

While I doubt that a community could ever institute a completely non-negotiable minimum tuition, I do see some advantages of making a minimum tuition known and enforcing it, as permissible by halacha. One advantage that I can see if that everyone would be contributing and no family would be perceived as completely "freeloading." The sinah caused by the perception that some are freeloading, whether justified or unjustified, is a serious issue.

Another advantage, perhaps bigger advantage, would be that young people (hopefully even young unmarried people) would be forced to discuss and plan for the future. I have heard too many young people say tuition is not a concern for them because "that's what scholarships are for." While I believe in scholarships, communal support, and more for our schools (as I hope I've demonstrated), I also realize that community support and endowments, etc are not strong enough today to take care of the present and the near future. I would like to believe that if young people understood their fiscal responsibility to their own children and to the klal, that they would be forced to make different decisions regarding earning, spending and debt, and saving. They may never be able to pay full tuitions, even for a "smaller" family. But, they would think twice about many things. And, even if young people still decided not to think about financial issues on their own initiative, maybe grandparents and future grandparents would sit them down for a good talk and plan session.

From what I can see, minimum tuitions are becoming more and more of a reality as it is, whether or not the policy is official. The disadvantages are obvious. The advantages are also present.

What do you think?

87 comments:

anon1 said...

Full disclosure from the outset- I view myself as a good friend of Dr. Klafter. I think on the merits he is right for the reasons you discuss. Minimum tuition shifts the burden in all of those -- should grandparents choose to take their children and grandchildren on a Pesach vacation when their children are not paying full tuition for their grandchildren. This way, if the kids are required to pay, the grandparents may be more inclined to allow the money to go to minimum tuition than to a vacation. But that really is a whole other discussion.

At our school, we have a minimum tuition. However, a separate tzedaka was started that is designed to cover the shortfall of those families who can not fully meet their minimum tuition requirements. This tzedaka is operated outside of the school is actually available for all yeshiva day schools in the area. Thus, all parents must pay minimum tuition from whatever source they can find it. Depending on the criteria by this tzedaka, some are then entitled to funding from this separate tzedaka. The application process for this is separate from the school's scholarship process and though I do not know all of the details, I do not believe the criteria for the school's scholarship and these grants are the same.

I once asked the question of someone involved in the tzedaka whether this system ultimately works, given that people will then give less the school if they give to this organization instead. But I am told that on a net basis, it does appear to be working -- for a variety of reasons. In any event, it is an interesting idea.

Neil Harris said...

"I would like to believe that if young people understood their fiscal responsibility to their own children and to the klal, that they would be forced to make different decisions regarding earning, spending and debt, and saving"

You're probably right. One the things that attracted us to the current school our children attend is that the Principal is not involved in tuition issues at all. He is there as a Principal.

Organizations like the Kehillah Fund in Chicago help to off set tuition costs. We've made and continue to make choices to help cover tution costs.

Outoftown said...

This tuition issue was one of the reasons we moved to a smaller community. For the yeshivish school in our community, the top tuition (for Jr. high boys, who have a longer day) is 8500.

Our school also instituted a minimum tuition this year, of 2000 per child. I hope it will help make a difference, as our school is also deeply in the red.

SephardiLady said...

Anon1-I'd love to see you here more. Maybe you could choose a "name" since it seems like you have a lot to add to the conversations.

I wanted to point out that communities could institute separate funds for those that can't make minimum tuitions(as they can for about any cause). So, thanks for pointing that out! It probably makes the debate on minimum tuitions easier to swallow.

Neil-Chicago is an exemplary community is so many aspects. A real model. Unfortunately, I don't believe most communities have the same amount of organization and professionality to their scholarship process.

Like you, I do NOT believe that principals should be involved in finances. I didn't like the fact that the tuitions issues and therefore finances in my example (Toras Emes) are dealt with by the principals. Jewish administrators, as far as I know, are not financial or business professionals and are probably too close to certain situations to remain neutral. (But, that, of course, is only my opinion).

Good to see conversation already!

SephardiLady said...

OutofTown-I have dreams about tuition under $10,000.

Izzy said...

Many of these issues affect us here in Baltimore.

I would be against a "minimum" tuition, simply because I know of families that are in a worse financial situation than we are, and they cannot be expected to provide monies for tuition, when they have difficulty providing food and shelter.

That said, I can understand the position of the administrations of the various schools. It must pain them to hear all of the sad stories of so many families. I know that I would be heartbroken to hear of so many families who have difficulty providing funding for their children.

But, those in the administrations must understand that the amount of monies being paid to tuition should not be the criteria. The criteria should be what is the percentage of income that is directed toward tuitions. For instance, in my case, with a family income of roughly $85K, it appears on the surface that we are doing well and living a middle class life. But it is not so. One daughter is going off to seminary in Eretz Yisroel. Cost: $2K (she is paying all the rest). Two sons are going to out of state Yeshivas (11th grade and 9th grade). Costs: $8K and $9K. Two sons are going to the local Yeshiva. Cost for both: $12K.

Thus, we are spending a *minimum* of $31K on tuitions (it doesn't include travel, clothes, food, etc.).

That is over 36 percent of our income!! After taxes (~ $300 Federal and $3K state ((It IS the People's Republic of Maryland {{grin}})), and Tzedokoh ($8.5K), it is over 42 percent of our income!!

We have **NEVER** had a vacation in over 25 years (ken ayin hora) of marriage. My parents are dead, and my inlaws *want* our children to be in public school!

When we show the tuition committee our budget, they just say that we'll have to find the money somehow.

SephardiLady said...

Izzy-I've said it before in other forums that your story is really painful. And, I know that there are many more people out there is similiar and worse boats.

Our of curiousity, are you giving $8500 in ma'aser in addition to tuitions. I am no expert on halacha, but I wonder if your tuition exempts you from ma'aser.

Goodluck finding the funds again and again. $85K is a high salary as far as I am concerned and it is hard to believe that such a high salary in the Orthoworld is below poverty line, basically.

Anonymous said...

SephardiLady,
You touch on my important issues. Some are administrative, some are communal/cultural, and some are personal.

When it comes to tuition someone needs to make the first move. I firmly believe that you need to serve the greatest good. If needed schools are failing because of tuition policies/collections issues then they have a responsibility to the enrolled students and their parents as well.

I appreciate religious leadership saying that there needs to be a no child left behind policy re: tuition but although it's well meaning...its the destruction of our institutions and culture.

Many families see scholarships as a right and not a privelage. We created this problem ourselves.

Maybe if many institutions set up this policy then culture would begin to change as you allude to in your post.

Joe Schick said...

Izzy's comment suggests that minimum tutition is necessary except in the most difficult circumstances. If all families paid a minimum amount of, say, $3000, people like him would shoulder a less overwhelming burden.

In the current situation, many schools allow dozens of parents to pay no tuition, thus forcing parents making middle class wages to pay full tuition. Of course, once these parents pay full tuition, they barely can pay the bills, let alone live a middle class lifestyle.

Steve Brizel said...

I think that the issue is more complex than just minimum tuition and that yeshivos have to run on both sentiment and financial values.

WADR,I reject the notion that yeshivos are a private school for the financially able, as opposed to providing a Judaic and secular education as a service to the community. Others may differ-BUT IMO,I don't think Chazal intended compulsory education as restricted solely to those can afford it.

Like it or not, providing a sound Jewish education in our community goes way beyond a school setting. Obviously, parents have to be involved in their childrens' education-and especially in ways that go beyond cutting a tuition check. Jewish education also means summer camps and youth groups as well as a year or so in a yeshiva, seminary or similar program in Israel where Torah and Jewish life do not compete with American culture. IMO, while others may differ, these are the key ingredients in achieving the optimal results from a yeshiva education.

Obviously, full time learners and mchanchim as well as those who have the bihg families but who don't make the greatest living are at the greatest risk vis a vis the tuition isssues.For some of these families, a minimum tuition is a very steep demand. It is ironic that George Hanus recognizes the financial predicament of our schools and the stresses that we are under. That being the case, our community has yet to show that it views education as a real priority-as opposed to a business where corporate style principles of governance are now being advocated by Dr Klafter-who I normally agree with on wide variety of issues, but with whom I must express this reservation.

anon1 said...

SephardiLady,

thanks for your kind words. I think your comments are always insighful. Maybe I will pick a name one of these days. I still wonder about how effective the separate fund idea actually is -- but so far a year or two into it here people seem happy with it.

Out of Town,

we are "out of town" and tution here is $10,000 (maybe a few hundred dollars less, I dont remember precisely) from kindergarden. And the school has real fiscal issues.

SephardiLady said...

Steve Brizel-I too am uncomfortable with a minimum tuition requirement and you make some good points. But, I think we need to draw a line somewhere in the sand. Not ever family can or should provide all the "extras" like camp and extracurriculars (a debatable point as you and I differ as to what "extras" are), especially at the detriment of tuition.

I agree 100% that tuition should be a communal responsibility and have stated that here and there(as Dr. Suess-the most read author in our home would say).

The real truth is that these tuition issues are so complicated, but so urgent. Like I said in this post and other posts, there are families that have opted out of day schools/yeshivot (not of Jewish education ch"v). Their reasons vary, but financial reasons are at the top. And, not one of the families that I know who has or is trying alternatives is living lavishly. Most are just trying to make ends meet.

SephardiLady said...

Anon1-I guess that will be your name. I'm just glad to have readers willing to discuss issues!

Since you are a friend of Dr. Klafter, I would appreciate it if you could invite him to discuss this issue here. (A guest post would be a lot to ask for also. . . but, I'd be thrilled if he was willing to give more insight!).

And, like you, we live "out of town," although it isn't in one of the most expensive areas and tuition for kindergarten is over $10K and shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.

MRN said...

From an economic perspecive, it makes me uncomfortable to hear people saying that full tuition is $8500 but the school is deeply in the red. Obviously the posted tuition should be much higher, because right now the school is leaving money on the table by not charging higher-income families more.

I am also in favor of minimum tuitions. I am appalled by the number of grandparents who buy brand new vans, clothes, toys etc for the grandchildren, or pay for expensive vacations, while refusing to pay any tuition for them. While one could argue this hurts kollel families or those in chinuch the most, I'm sure that arrangements could be made for these individuals since teachers often receive free or reduced tuitions for their children.

And I'll admit it: it upsets me that I have to consider whether I can afford to have another child since I am not going to receive any tuition breaks. On the other hand, someone who is already paying no tuition, doesn't have to worry about that at all. More children means more everyday expenses, not less, so the tuition burden can't possible go UP from zero. So I am essentially being asked to limit the size of my family so my tuition dollars can be split with a larger family which is not contributing at all to the whole community's burden. It is classic adverse selection.

To the person paying only $300 a year in federal taxes, how is this possible? Your AMT should be higher than that.

Wall Street Jew said...

what I think is that I am a Wall Street professional with over $200,000 of education debts because I do not come from a family that has parents or grandparents who can help.

Therefore, I cannot marry within the socioeconomic demands of orthodox judaism in America today. Do the math. I cannot support a family of 3 children with minimum tuition requirements, and I do not meet any women who want only 3 children or intend to work full time seriously very long at all after the chasuna.I cannot afford a home in any frum NY area suburbs. Any. None. Not one. That is the math, folks.

On paper, it is a truly lovely religion, but I am completely priced out.

MRN said...

Wall Street Jew -- things will turn around for you on the shidduch scene. If you keep your eyes open I am sure your bashert is going to come along. For example, I have a never-been-married sister-in-law who is over 37 who would love to meet a Wall Street professional. (She is 105 pounds and attractive, btw.) I seriously doubt someone of her age could have more than three children without medical intervention. Yes, she is pining at this point to have even ONE child, or even a step-child to love along with a husband. I am not sure who you are dating since you say you can only meet those aspiring to large families. I suppose from these comments that you are young. Someday soon you will have payed off your debts, meet someone who has paid off her debts, and find some common ground.

For what it is worth I didn't marry until 30 and my husband was 34.

SephardiLady said...

Wall Street Jew-Welcome and hope you will come back and contribute.

Please keep your hopes up in the shidduch scene. You obviously have a lot to offer as you are self-motivated and self-sufficient. These are attractive qualities, even when they come with student debt.

I know it is tough to feel priced out. But, there are a lot of women out there that don't want huge families and want to work. And, if you keep working to pay off the loans, you may find yourself in a better position that you thought you were in.

Goodluck and please stop by to leave comments.

Izzy said...

MRN:

How can I be possibly paying only $300 last year in Federal taxes??

Child tax credit.
Education credits.
Charitable donation exclusion.
Mortgage exclusion.
Medical exclusion.

etc.

You know, since all of the schools (here in Baltimore and several around the country) have all of my tax and budget information, maybe it would be of interest for me to post my taxes and budget here? Perhaps someone more savvy than I could point out something I'm missing.

SephardiLady said...

I don't think you are missing anything Izzy. The AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) is hitting more and more people in your income range. G-d willing it will never hit you since you need what you can to make through these trying tuition paying years.

BTW-I was doing a search and apparantely there is an Org in Baltimore that helps those having a hard time meeting the minimum tuition. What do you know about this organization, if anything?

MRN said...

Izzy: I have to pay an alternate minimum tax. The first $XXXX of my deductions are disallowed. And I don't get any child tax credits since I am a stay at home mom. Perhaps the credits you are receiving are offsetting your tax burden but usually someone who makes $85K would get hit with AMT.

nachum klafter, MD said...

Sephardi Lady:

Anon1 (who is a talmid chacham muflag, ba'al middos, a generous ba'al ha-bayis, and highly competent professional to boot) extended your invitiation to come and comment.

I am sorry that my article was the "most uncomfortable" to read. I am in the middle of "tuition negotiation" season again right now, and I'm about to lose my mind.

The bottom line is this: Klal Yisroel has to decide whether they want to support chinuch. The Catholics, lehavdil, require the entire parish to support their parochial schools. It is simply an embarrassment to me that Am Ha-Sefer does not support our batei sefer in a systematic and organized way.

As an officer of the Day School Board, it is my duty to be an advocate for the day school. It is extremely generous to discount tuition by 70 perecent for indigent families. If families are so indigent that they cannot pay even 30% of the costs per child of education, then the kehilla (and not the school) will have to be the ones to make up this shortfall.

There is another problem in many communities. The percantage of students who are children of chevrei kollel, Habad shlichim, or mechanechim in many schools itself is increasing. When a large percentage of the school are children of "klei kodesh" it is unrealistic to think that the situation will be financially tenable.

We spoke to the baalei batim who support our local kollel about the great expense of education for the children of kollel members, and they (May HaShem bless them all) decided that they will find a way to put tuition for the day school into the Kollel's budget. Therefore, the Kollel wrote a very substantial check this year to pay for their children's tuition. This helped a lot. Minimum tuition helped a lot also.

As far as the few families that truly could not meet their minium tuition, some signed IOU's to be paid (interest free) over 10 years in the future when they no longer have kids in school, some did real work for the school which lowered our expenses this year, and some fundraised to support their minumum tuition. This went a long way also.

The community will have to decide, at some point, whether we intend for every child in our kehillos to receive a top quality Torah and secular education. If this is a prioirity, the community will have to pay for it. Parents cannot afford it. The schools will not keep running without adequte funding.

I am not the Moreh De-Asra of our kehilla. (Indeed, I am not even a rabbi.) I don't have the power to simply impose a takkana that everyone must prioritize half of their ma'aser to our day school. If I could, I certainly would. We are taking steps to improve our efficiency (i.e. keep costs down), and improve our fundraising. In the meantime, however, the parents of our community will face in increasing burden because the school will not survive otherwise.

Ariella said...

Excellent post, Sephardi Lady.

SephardiLady said...

Dr. Klafter,
Thank you so much for joining us. It is really a huge honor. I plan to post your comments tomorrow since they are very insightful. I too see schools that are heavily occupied by members of large families who are in chinuch, kollel, shlichus, or are just getting a "late start" because of some combination of reasons and financially it seems disasterous.

Your article was an "uncomfortable read" only because it challenges everyone. But, the more I think about the JA issue, the more I believe that your article enhanced it and we NEED to be challenged as a community and those who are not putting themselves in a position to even may a "minimum tuition" probably need to be challenged too.

As I pointed out in my post, I believe that if younger people understood that they are responsible for their children's education, at least on a minimal level, they may make different decisions. I imagine that we are in agreement here.

Like you, I wish I could force everyone (young, old, single, married) to give half of their tzedakah funds to education. We have made such a goal of ours, but few do the same, I believe.

If private Jewish schooling is really a priority, we need to be creating a "tax base" in our own community. Vouchers, gov't assistance, and more is currently a pipe dream. I am sad we cannot see the big picture as a community and make education funding for K-12 our priority.

A special thanks to Anon1 who did us all a big favor by alerting you to the post. I hope you will come around and contribute.

-------------------------------

MRN, Izzy, and other interest parties--Unfortunately, I have tried to find some way of predicting who will be hit by the AMT and have been unable to come up with a formula which is unfortunate, but is one of the HUGE criticisms of the AMT. Sorry that MRN was hit by it. We are in a similiar range as Izzy and have (perhaps) miraculously not been hit. But, we expect to be hit and are preparing for the worst.

Ariella--Thanks so much.

David said...

Dr. Klafter, one of the differences between the Orthodox Jewish community and the Catholic community is that there is not the concept of "kollel" in the Catholic world - everyone is expected to earn their own living.

I believe that this difference is instructive - we are faced with the decision of supporting children learning or supporting adults learning (with their own children!) Perhaps following a more European model might be better - Rashi was a vintner, and Rambam was a physician...

Certainly if fewer adults intended to be supported by the community, there would be both greater resources to support children, and a lesser need to do so.

Elster said...

Not for nothing, but you all seem to be missing the boat. The debate should not be about miimum tuitions - but rather figuring out why tuitions are so high in the first place. It seems incomprehensible to me that it should cost me almoat 1,500 dollars a year to send my kids to high school (thank the good lord they are still in nursery, so I'm only paying about 5,000 per kid).

To be frank, it's time to figure out how to come some of the costs. Do we really need 6 administrators in a school (just one example) like some schools have? What is going on here? Why has there been a serious drive to send kids to public school?

In my opinion, the leaders of the Jewish communities are failing to address this issue head on. The costs of being an orthodox jew in America are skyrocketing out of control - and while it's simple for these leaders to expect the father in law to pay for it all, that simply is NOT the reality for many people - some of whm make over 150,000 dollars a year yet cannot afford anyhting beyond basics.

SephardiLady said...

Elster-Welcome. IMO you definitely make a great point, especially about the "top heavy" schools. I went to public school and we had about a third to half of the administrators for six times more students. Granted we had a superitendent and vice-superitendent for the whole school district (but, that is exactly the point--the frum schools do NOT share resources and we all pay for it!).

I also don't know how reasonable it is to expect grandparents to continue to pay tuition. First of all, grandparents don't like to favor one child over another. So, if a grandparent helps one grandchild, they feel obligated to help the others. And, many grandparents (my in-laws being a case in point) went into debt providing for their own children's Yeshiva education and there is no way that they now can provide for over double the number of grandchildren than they had children. Plus, ultimately, if they spend everything they've got and more, who will support them?

Even if grandparents were to provide $1000 per year per grandchild (reasonable????), if they have 25 grandchildren (also likely), that is $25,000 of after-tax dollars! And, many of these grandparents still have their own mortgages to pay because they refinanced and refinanced.

I agree, the numbers just don't add up and it is a serious issue.

Hope you will come back often and contribute.

Elster said...

Re: grandparents - It's simply unfair to ask them to support grandchildren. They did their service by providing for thir own kids. Their is no torah commandment that you cannot enjoy the fruits of your hard earned wealth. To blame them for "buying a fancy car or fancy toys" is outrageous.

Anonymous said...

There are several issues floating here. One is whether the schools are run efficiently; this matters both for individual schools and among the schools in communities large enough to have several--are the places where cooperation among schools can allow economies of scale? I also wonder at the costs cited. In business it is fairly common for the cost of an employee providing direct service to a customer to be about 3 times the employee's salary, the difference paying for benefits, plant and equipment, and the salaries of those who do not provide their services directly to the customers. Schools generally have few of those than other businesses as far as I can see. 20 kids in a class room, paying an average of 2/3 of $15,000 tuition would come to $67K/year per teacher. Our local day school says they collect about 2/3 of the tuition on average, and I don't think they pay that much. So why are they always short of funds?

There is also the question of what we will stop supporting if we support schools more? Most of us give genrously to various tzedakahs. If we gave more to schools where would it come from? I drive beat up 10+ year old cars to save money to pay full tuition, wear clothes until they are threadbare, and my mortgage is only 25% of my tuition payments, so it can't come from living expenses. The shuls need to cover their expenses too, as does the mikveh. There are poor people who need help paying rent, heat and food, and we contribute there. Someone mentioned kollel; I'd hate to see it but its possible.

Whenever someone suggests that people not have more children then they can afford to educate it creates a big stir. And frankly, the thought disturbs me greatly. Nonetheless we have to think about it. I must confess to a certain amount of ire when I get a letter from some poor kli kodesh in Erettz Yisrael who won't be able to marry off his 10 children if he can't raise enough money to buy them apartments. My 4 children will not be able to marry until they can support themselves and their families, but I still respond to these appeals in a small way. Maybe I am just encouraging irresponsible behavior, though.

Finally, parents must be willing to sacrifice to send their kids to school. And consider it their responsibility to keep their other expenses under control and pay full tuition if at all possible. I must say that it irks me that parents who will happily tell me that their kids are on scholarship (or teachers whose salary I am sacrificing to pay) tease my kids about our beat up car. Or take vacations and host simchas that I couldn't afford.

Joe Schick said...

While I support minimum tuition in principle, and agree with Dr. Klafter that the community must choose to support its schools, I think Dr. Klafter goes too far. If a family really has no money and no connections (often money and connections go together), I don't see how the school can deny their children a Jewish education.

I also must take issue with Dr. Klafter's statement that "As an officer of the Day School Board, it is my duty to be an advocate for the day school." No, he is, or should be, an advocate for chinuch of Jewish children, not for his particular school.

The problem is that many people who don't pay tuition can find the money, if necessary. Indeed, there are those who drive nice cars, live in a nice house, and take nice vacations, all paid for by the grandparents, though they have little income. Why should other parents subsidize the tuition of these people's kids?

Therefore, while Elster is right that grandparents should not necessarily be expected to pay tuition, when they are clearly providing substantial financial support to their kids in other areas, I think it's untenable to let these parents get a free pass and force those who work hard to barely make ends meet when they subsidizie them.

Elster said...

On a limited basis re: Joe Shick's arguments about grandparents, I agree. If for WAHTEVER reason you have the money to take vacations and drive an Acura or Lexus (even if it comes from Bubby and Zaidy) then you need to be coughing up a large percentage of your tuition bill.

I personally do not find the idea of a minimum tuition appaling (so long as it does not apply to those truly in desperate straits) but I reiterate that the larger issue here is that tuitions are out of control to bein with. Where is the fiscal responsibility of the schools?

For example - If having a school basketball team is rasing tuition - cut sports out of the budget. Let individuals pay for a schools hockey or basketball team or after school art program. It's more important tnaht no kid need go to public school than little yossi can average 14.5 points and 7 rebounds a game for his elementary school basketball team.

This is an example obviously.

Joe Schick said...

"If having a school basketball team is rasing tuition - cut sports out of the budget."

This is why charedi schools are cheaper.

Would MO parents agree to give up sports, etc.?

Elster said...

I honestly don't think it should be left to them. People fail to see the big picture. It's for the school to decide what programs to offer. If the schools were being responsible to the community, they would act accordingly.

The true problem, in my opinion, is that schools in MO worlds are run by the rich people who donate the most - and thus end up making policy (much like shuls, which have the same problem). Rich people don't have tuition problems and often cannot comprehend that people often lack the basic dollar amounts to pay for even necessities.

As long as schools have policy being crafted by such people, the problem will never go away.

Steve Brizel said...

Wall Street Jew-Many young people who aren't Wall Streeters with your income or PHDs ( Pa Has Dough) have always dated, gotten married and raised families. I applaud your concern re six-figure debts which too many of us blow off like credit card charges that glow in the dark. Yet, I do believe that there are frum,intelligent, educated and attractive women in any frum community who are looking for a guy such as yourself. If I were you, I would talk to your friends and your families friends as opposed to shadchanim. They know you a lot better and can probably steer you in the right direction than shadchanim who deal with lots of young men and women without a whole lot of insight into what the young man or woman is looking for.

Steve Brizel said...

Wall Street Jew-I view your situation analogous to that of a young doctor finishing a residency or fellowship. Even with six-figure debts, if you become a partner , senior associate or decide to work as a lawyer for a corporation, your debts will gradually disappear. I don't know your age, but guys with your earning power are not exactly inimical to being great husbands, fathers and Baalei Tzedakah.

nachum klafter, MD said...

"...you all seem to be missing the boat. The debate should not be about miimum tuitions - but rather figuring out why tuitions are so high in the first place..."

Day schools are generally non-profit institutions and are required by law to disclose their finances. If they receive any funding, even very modest, from the local Federation, then no doubt the Federation will require a licensed CPA to perform an annual audit. Go check their figures and see if you can save them lots of money by improving efficiency. If so, then you have a duty to join the School Board's finance committee. However, I think you will be surprised that there is, in most cases, very little waste.

Our day school's budget is about 85% salaries. Unless you feel our teachers are overpaid (not likely), then you will be hard pressed to argue that our school is wasteful. I cannot speak for other schools who have greater costs per child (our cost of education per child is about $8,000, slightly higher this year perhaps), but it may be due to the fact that the cost of living in our city is relatively low and our teachers can definitely live like menschen on lower salaries than NY, LA, Chicago.

"I also must take issue with Dr. Klafter's statement that "As an officer of the Day School Board, it is my duty to be an advocate for the day school." No, he is, or should be, an advocate for chinuch of Jewish children, not for his particular school."

Incorrect. Board members have a fiduciary responsibility for the institution that they serve. It is my job to advocate for the School, as an institution. To the extent that children's needs are congruent with the school's needs, I will also be advocating for our children. For example, if I negotiate with a donor to receive a donation to go toward scholarships for low income families, then this advocacy serves both the Institution as well as the children. However, there are occasions where there may be a conflict of interest between children and the institution, or parents and the institution, or another institution and our school. For example, a family owes our school money, I may elect to take them to a Din Torah. The school will be a tove'a, and the family will be a nitva. My duty is primarily to the institution.

"Dr. Klafter, one of the differences between the Orthodox Jewish community and the Catholic community is that there is not the concept of "kollel" in the Catholic world - everyone is expected to earn their own living... Certainly if fewer adults intended to be supported by the community, there would be both greater resources to support children, and a lesser need to do so."

Well, yes, it's true that if there were more people who can afford to pay a lot of money for tuition, then things would be better. However, I don't believe that this would even put a large dent in the problems that most schools face. The "big picture" problem is that the costs of education are falling too heavily on the parents, and then passed onto the school when they cannot pay full tuition. However, we need to keep our schools running in the meantime, and we can't wait for the kehilla to change it's tzedaka priorities.

Schools cost a fortune to run, even when it is done super-efficiently. The American public school system is supported by the entire society, not by the parents alone. The Rambam in hilkhos talmud torah states that it is the KEHILLA that has a responsibility to pay for schoolteachers to educate the tinukos shel bais rabban of the city. In North America, it falls disproportionately on the school itself to struggle to raise funds, and many schools are at the breaking point. Parents will feel the increasing burden on their tuition prices and on reduced amounts of scholarships available becasue the schools simply don't have it. It is not tenable in the long term however. The entire kehilla will have to support it's school, or the schools of our kehillos will fold and we will be back to the Talmud Torah/publich school situation of 2 generations ago, ch"v. If you want to be part of a kehilla which produces talmidei chachamim, it will cost you money to do so. The parents cannot afford it on their own, and the schools are no longer receiving enough donations through fundraising to stay healthy and secure.

Ariella said...

I am not making this up: Someone sent the following email to the 5 Towns list:
I am a mother struggling with my income, does anyone know if there
excist help with paying tuition? are they some wealthy people who
would take care of paying a child's tuition? any info will be appreciated.
E-mail me back at....

----------------
It sounds like she is seeking a patron, for the schools are not providing a scholarship that would allow her to swing the tuition costs.

Elster said...

With all due respect Dr. Klafter, I find it impossible to believe that money is NOT being wasted. I don't know anything about your school per se, but I know that the elementary school where my kids will probabably be going to (and where my wife currently teaches) has something like 8 adminstrators over the elementary school and 2 high schools. Huh? 8 adminstrators? Doing what, exactly? According to many in the know, not eough to justify these jobs being split 8 ways. The elementary school, while very large, has a hebrew principal and in effect 2 assistants to the hebrew principal. Why?

And again, perhpas the school budget should indeed be passed out to every parent in the school. If I'm paying 13 grand a year, I would very much like to see where all that money is going.

"Board members have a fiduciary responsibility for the institution that they serve. It is my job to advocate for the School, as an institution."

Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I think that as Jews it's incorrect to take a draconian, business first attitude about the education of our chidren. We need to find a way to make it work. period. End of story.

No disrespect meant.

SephardiLady said...

Wow this conversation is really developing and (as the blog owner), I'm glad to see it happen with such an important issue.

I think there are plenty of reasons to take a better business approach to running a school (or better yet the entire system of schools in the community). To me business includes marketing, human resources, retaining clientele, logistics, revenue development, collectibles, finance, and more. Our communities need to find a way to market schools, retain current clientele and attract new (paying) clientele, share resources, collect tuitions and pledges timely, develop new sources of revenue, and manage money appropriately. That to me is business! And, there is no reason our schools should not take a "business approach," (with a heart of course).

We definitely need to find a way to increase the "tax base" for Jewish education. Parents cannot be expected to shoulder the entire burden. But, I think we have to expect some sort of minimal tuition from ALL because we cannot continue to expect tapped out parents to continue to come up with more and more. (I'm glad to hear the kollel where you live Dr. Klafter was up to the task!).

More comments later. I'm more interesting in hearing everyone else's comments than repeating what I've said here and other places again and again.

SephardiLady said...

Dr. Klafter, Thank you for your continued participation.

themarykaygal said...

Grandparents. ha. My parents disowned me years ago for becoming Orthodox, esentially--- I'm out of the will and haven't seen a penny in years. My husband's parents are sweet and emotionally supportive people, but they don't have a penny--- WE make more money than they do. And us? We're $190 K in debt from credit cards (almost $100 K now), student loans (about $70 K now), and medical and infertility debts. What keeps us going vis a vis tuition are 3 things:

1) I have a masters degree in education and I very well might choose to homeschool. It's a huge undertaking, but I think I may need to. Even though my husband is a teacher and would rather his kids be educated in SCHOOL.

2) We don't yet have children (we're just pregnant with twins now, B"H). By the time our children are required to be in school, if we choose NOT to homeschool, (we really do LIKE our local school) we'll have some of our credit cards paid off and the payments that would have gone towards those cards will simply be switched to tuition. We'll maybe pay about $1000 a month in tuition instead of $1000 a month to a few of the cards. Not sure how much tuition IS, but I heard about a rumor for a multiples discount... we'll see. :)

3) In 5-6 years when we have kids in school, we'll make more money than we do now. I chose a career where my income increases exponentially over time based on the work I do. My husband is a teacher and his income will always be roughly $50,000, but I stand a good chance of making 6 figures within the next few years depending on how angelic these kidlets turn out. :) So that keeps us thinking positively towards the tuition filled future too.

GREAT post, and wonderful discussion, everyone! This is officially my FAVORITE blog!

themarykaygal said...

ps--- speaking as a former school administrator (yes, I LEFT Jewish education so that I COULD make more of an income :) ---- administrators are sooooo very necessary. There is SO MUCH done behind the scenes in a basic school, that most parents wouldn't believe it unless they sat behind a principal's desk as a fly on a wall for a few weeks. Administrators work HARD and we DO need them.

Disabled and Disowned said...

Steve Brizel-

Your comment to Wall Street Jew about his income growing exponentially to pay for tuition is way off base. I was once a Wall Street professional as well, and received no subsidy on tuition on four children. Then I became 100% disabled, and was dropped by the community like a rotten tomato. There is no possible way now to complete their education in the community's schools, and I am certain to face bankruptcy for financial obligations already taken on based upon the assumption that my income was endless into the future. It wasn't, at least not at the standards we had grown accustomed.

Don;t ever suggest to someone that their income going forward is a guarantee. Life changes in one car accident forever, particularly the family budgets. There are no more yeshivas. There will be no Ivy League schools, or even YU. No years in Israel learning, anywhere. No contribution of any kind to any shidduchim. My children are simply no longer on any track of the frum community's culture. Every major experience they will not share or participate in. And every major experience of theirs will be completely alien to all these other children.

And for the community (suburban New Jersey), I am personna non grata for not having "properly providing" for my wife and family in event of a career ending injury. I would have been better off dead, as far as the women in shul are concerned, at least then my widow could collect a decent life insurance policy. Unfortunately, I survived.

So much for the frum community's attitudes in 2006.

SephardiLady said...

MaryKayGal-Thanks for the compliment. :)

Ariella-It must be somewhat shocking to see a person publically seeking support on your 5Towns listserv. It might be an indication of how out of hand the situation is getting.

Disabeled and Disowned-I am extremely sad to here about your situation. To me, tzedakah is about helping thos who Unfortunately, I know people in my own community who were told that debts are not considered during the scholarship process (only income is). Debts are listed on the tuition assistance form, but the administrator did tell my friends "those are not our issue." In their case, the debts were mixed I believe (some student loans for a tech program and some credit card debt), but it would not surprise me at all if our medical professional friends with debts to match their potential incomes end up with no break.

I hate to be a pessimist, but I think the best advice for those with debt is to just chip away at it while they can and don't take on more expense than is needed. But, Wall Street Jew obviously has a lot to offer and should keep his head high!

Everyone-Thanks for keeping up a great conversation. More posts later, including another tuition post (or two).

Anonymous said...

I am on the board and scholarship committee for a Yeshiva with a minimum tuition. So now we have a family with $60k in income, a second mortgage, 30k in credit card debt, 6 kids (lets say 3 in this Yeshiva), do you really think we will make them pay us $9,000?
Minimum tuition is not the answer. It is not the lower income people that are not participating. It is the upper income people that are the defecit. Its also the organizations like Agudah that are not thinking large enough. Its not state governments that will solve this issue, its a comprehensive plan for tapping into philanthropy, foundations, and investing in the future. The tuition shortfall in the NewYork/New Jersey area is at least a $1 billion problem if not a $2 billion problem. Minimum tuition is less than a $50 million answer

Joe Schick said...

While I think minimum tuition can be a partial bandaid to the overriding problem and agree that community support is the only longterm solution, Dr. Klafter is wrong that his fiduciary duty to the school prevents him from being an advocate for chinuch generally. Is the president of a university failing to represent the school if he/she advocates for a liberal scholarship and financial aid program?

I understand that many people can find the money and therefore support the principle of minimum tuition, but the absence of any hardship exception is simply wrong.

I happen to know someone who had three children, a nice house and an income of around $100,000. In his 40's, he had an illness that left him totally disabled, could no longer work, incurred massive medical bills, had his house foreclosed upon, and had to move to a different part of the country where cost of living is lower. (He moved into a 2BR apt.) His sole income was social security disability of around $2000 a month. Fortunately, the yeshiva in the new community accepted $1500 per year in tuition and welcomed the children.

Anonymous said...

"While my heart wants to agree with the challenger (Dr. Lindenberg), but my head gets in the way."

If you really put more thought into it you would see that quite the opposite is true of your analysis.

"My head tells me that minimum tuitions are fast becoming a necessity."

Why? As Dr Lindenberg correctly points out, it is unreasonable to expect tuition to meet these kinds of shortfalls. Your assumption is based on what is seemingly true, but not so in reality. This 'necessity' will eliminate the possibility of a large percentage of our jewish youth from obtaining an education. As one other poster correctly points out, your views are exactly what makes this a religion for the rich. I doubt hkbh will accept this answer when confronted on judgement day.

"And, apparently, I am not alone in my thoughts on minimum tuitions."

This is a commonly used debating technique citing others who share your point of view. I am with Napoleon when it comes to consensus opinion on a large number of issues 'the masses are a....' This is a suicidal approach to education, a further distances ourselves from the have nots, and encourages a jewish vasectomy. We have an emergency that is destroying the fabric of yiddishkeit, and you haughtily promulgate the benefits of eviscerating a large segment of our people from a fundamental value? We should be aggressively pursuing ways to include and fund from the outside, not implement selfish policies that alienate as Dr. Klafter and present company seem to champion.

"Dr. Lindenberg rightly points out that there will be casualties, if non-negotiable minimum tuitions were ever instituted. I already know of a family that is unable to enroll all of their children in day schools due to the minimum tuition offered by the school (I don't believe that there is an official minimum tuition policy in their community, but the minimal tuition required per child is well beyond their reach). This coming year, they will be homeschooling all of their children."

He is dead right. Shame on you and Dr. Klafter (who unfortunately is in a position to perpetuate this dreadful set of circumstances) for supporting a policy that makes these casualties mainstream. As a school leader he is required to fundraise aggressively to prevent such heinous acts of omission from occuring. Either that or step down.

"While I doubt that a community could ever institute a completely non-negotiable minimum tuition, I do see some advantages of making a minimum tuition known and enforcing it, as permissible by halacha."

You show me the halacha that permits a Jewish community to turn its back on a family that wants a Jewish education but cant afford nefarious 'minimum tuition' standards, and than I will show you the halacha that permits one to eat a cheeseburger. An entire generation of refuseniks would have been denied this right of passage with such tunnel vision.

There are other ways to raise money. They are exceptionally painful, time consuming, requiring tremendous energy and labor. This is the real reason why those in Klafter's camp support such a reckless policy towards Jewish education.

"The advantages are also present."

This is pure conjecture that is completely unsupported in Klafter's diatribe and your ode to tuition hikes. Shame on you and Dr. Klafter for perpetuating a policy of disaster.

nachum klafter, MD said...

"While I think minimum tuition can be a partial bandaid to the overriding problem and agree that community support is the only longterm solution, Dr. Klafter is wrong that his fiduciary duty to the school prevents him from being an advocate for chinuch generally."

You are misconstruing what I said. I am saying that as a board member, I need to try to keep the school open. I believe that I absolutely am an advocate for chinnuch. The position I am in now requires that I advocate with parents on behalf of the school so that they make an even greater effort to support chinnuch. How is that not being an advocate for chinnuch?

Everyone is squeezed now, including the school. If the school folds, all is lost. Parents are included in the people now who will feel an additional squeeze. Another group is our teachers. Teachers' salaries will not be kept up with the cost of living. Many gainfully employed teachers are indigent and qualify for medicaid.

Everyone is worried about struggling families. I am simply adding another dimesion to this: I am worried about struggling schools. That is my duty, as a board officer. I am also worrying about struggling teachers.

"There are other ways to raise money. They are exceptionally painful, time consuming, requiring tremendous energy and labor."

The truth is that Board members and other volunteers put in a grueling, tremendous effort at fundraising. In the same manner you could direct your comments to families, and say "There are many ways to earn money. They are exceptionally painful, time consuming, requiring energy and labor." However, I imagine you would not say that to indigent families because it would be insulting. Maybe you should think twice before saying this to volunteer Board members who are toiling away for the benefit of their tzibbur.

"Shame on you and Dr. Klafter for perpetuating a policy of disaster."

"Shame on you and Dr. Klafter..."

"This is pure conjecture that is completely unsupported in Klafter's diatribe..."

You are very good at making offensive comments, but there is absolutely no content in any of your acerbic remarks. Your rant proves our point. Note that you have not contributed one coherent concept other than "Fundraise harder."

SephardiLady said...

Anonymous-I believe you are the only one having a diatribe here. I started this post to open a discussion and am open to and welcome opposing viewpoints.

One of the reasons that I have come to support the idea of minimum tuitions, as I stated, is that I believe that it will push people to make different decisions, perhaps decisions that will allow for them to pay minimal tuitions. (Of course there will have to be exceptions, as Joe Schick demonstrated and Dr. Klafter did too when he demonstrated creative plans his school has implemented).

Currently, there is a glut of young people who are making decisions that will not allow them to pay much, if anything, in tuition. And, too many of them are living with the delusion that the community and other tuition payers will continue to pick up the excess, despite the facts: schools running in the red and even families with nice incomes being priced out.

The problem is that the "middle class" (term used lightly) cannot only be expected to pick up the burden for so much longer. As they get priced out (either because they are, or because they perceive themselves as being priced), I'm afraid that some will walk. In fact, I know a number who already have walked.

There are other ways to raise money. They are exceptionally painful, time consuming, requiring tremendous energy and labor.

If you have a great way to raise money, please present it! Anything less would be criminal.

As for me, I'm thankful that there are people willing to do the thankless job of sitting on a tuition committee, school board, or more.

SephardiLady said...

This is a suicidal approach to education, a further distances ourselves from the have nots, and encourages a jewish vasectomy.

Unfortunately, there are many people who choose NOT to have more children (sometimes child number 3) because of tuition. So, I think the "suicide" is already happening. Please don't attribute that to a discussion of minimum tuitions.

Anonymous said...

"You are misconstruing what I said. I am saying that as a board member, I need to try to keep the school open. I believe that I absolutely am an advocate for chinnuch. The position I am in now requires that I advocate with parents on behalf of the school so that they make an even greater effort to support chinnuch. How is that not being an advocate for chinnuch?"

I am not sure you understand what you are saying. You are both an advocate of chinuch, but only to those who can afford it? Further, it is a sad state when a self proclaimed board member cites his primary role 'to keep the school open'. This should not be the ends, only a means to a far more important value, assuring everyone gets an education, not just those who can afford. I suppose it is easy for those of means to further a policy of elitism. Your policy does little to encourage parents 'make a greater effort'. At 10k plus, how is a working class family going to 'make a greater effort'. The vast majority are stretched thin. Your myopic view of education seems to emanate from an inherent belief that tuition should cover the majority of operations. While you seem to deny this in previous posts, your thinking doesn't follow.

"Everyone is squeezed now, including the school. If the school folds, all is lost. Parents are included in the people now who will feel an additional squeeze. Another group is our teachers. Teachers' salaries will not be kept up with the cost of living. Many gainfully employed teachers are indigent and qualify for medicaid."

So your wonderful solution to this mess is to prevent the poorest families from obtaining an education? That is very disappointing.

"Everyone is worried about struggling families. I am simply adding another dimesion to this: I am worried about struggling schools. That is my duty, as a board officer. I am also worrying about struggling teachers."

I find it deeply troubling that this is how you see your role as an officer of a day school. The fundamental dogma should be access to a Jewish education, not keeping the doors open. Quite frankly I'm not sure I want your kind of school open at all.

"However, I imagine you would not say that to indigent families because it would be insulting. Maybe you should think twice before saying this to volunteer Board members who are toiling away for the benefit of their tzibbur."

I am no stranger to volunteer work myself. That isn't the point. Simply because someone volunteers doesn't give them blanket approval to implement exclusionary policies that doom our way of life. Unfortunately there are many hard working, well meaning volunteers who set their respective communities back eons. Even more troubling, they are put in a position to levy school policy that doom our future.

"You are very good at making offensive comments, but there is absolutely no content in any of your acerbic remarks. Your rant proves our point. Note that you have not contributed one coherent concept other than."

I'm sorry that your delicate feelings were hurt. If you look carefully, I directed my comments at your policy. I am addressing the proverbial 'you'. I am far more concerned however with the hundreds of kids in Cincinnati that cant obtain a Jewish education because of your flagitious policies directed at them. I wonder if you would feel the way you do if you personally might have been denied an education because of this kind of utter nonsense. I think it is time board politics in Jewish day school's in America seek people across a variety of demographic and financial resources. Clearly this particular commentator has little sympathy to the plight of the less fortunate.

It may be construed a rant I suppose. It had several coherent and sharply worded points. That you were unable to understand cogent and well substantiated thought is perplexing. Perhaps you just didn't want to.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous-I believe you are the only one having a diatribe here. I started this post to open a discussion and am open to and welcome opposing viewpoints."

Perhaps it was. That is how I write though, so try to stay with me without getting offended. Since you state this is an 'open' discussion that 'welcome(s)' other views, consider mine the 'other' view.

"Dr. Klafter did too when he demonstrated creative plans his school has implemented)."

I believe Dr Klafter's policy is wreckless, nutty, and will ultimately 'doom' our way of life. Orthodox Judaism has survived many thousands of years through community support without 'minimum' elitist nonsense. Ask any immigrant from Europe who learned in cheder. The strategem doesn't need to be fine tuned by a seemingly haughty board member. The recipe for success is well layed out, standing the test of thousands of years. Times were often tough, but orthodoxy survived far greater challenges of history. I am afraid Klafter's subterfuge might permit a school to pay its mortgage, but subsequent generations of Jews will have far greater intermarriage rates and assimilation. That is a culture I want no part of, and I would hope constituents of his community would be deeply offended that someone with such selfish views is running their school.

"Currently, there is a glut of young people who are making decisions that will not allow them to pay much, if anything, in tuition. And, too many of them are living with the delusion that the community and other tuition payers will continue to pick up the excess, despite the facts: schools running in the red and even families with nice incomes being priced out."

This is mere unsubstantiated parable. You are saying something that may or may not be true to defend a viewpoint. In either case I believe the view that Dr. Lindenberg cites, that this is the casualty of an inclusionary policy. You need to implement policy of higher value, rather than pillage them for a smaller value, ie setting exclusionary tuition policies to 'keep the doors open.' I believe your comments are a harbinger of a more menacing 'delusion', that tuition should, can, and will subsidize a majority of a day school operations. This is pure rubbish in my opinion. The community needs to fill in this shortfall. By community I mean both local community leaders including the Rabbis, as well as international organizations like the OU and JCC.

"If you have a great way to raise money, please present it! Anything less would be criminal."

There are hundreds of ways to raise money delineated on day school websites across the country. In the end there needs to be a ton of begging from organizations both near and far. I don't mean to undermine that tremendous effort required to this end, but board members MUST step up to the plate if they are to fill this role. I challenge Dr Klafter on how much he has personally raised and as a board for his school. Unfortunately the much easier way out is to simply 'raise tuition' and set minimums without appreciating the dire consequences this will have on our future.

"As for me, I'm thankful that there are people willing to do the thankless job of sitting on a tuition committee, school board, or more."

You shouldn't be. Sitting on the board is only useful if it is effective. You are selling both your community and yourself short if you laud those who simply volunteer for the sake of volunteering. That isn't good enough in my opinion. There role in the community is far more serious and enduring than that, and they too should be evaluated over and over again. If Judaism is to 'survive and thrive' you should set the bar much much higher. Our ancestors did.

nachum klafter, MD said...

"I challenge Dr Klafter on how much he has personally raised and as a board for his school."

Ok, you asked:

I raised about $25K in personal solicitations, going around "begging" as you put it.

At our fundraising dinner this past year we raised a total of about 140K. My direct fundraising for this was probably only about $1,750 but it was to strangers on the phone, many of whom were out of town. However, other work I did made the dinner possible.

For our raffle I raised $2,000.

I performed 3 circumcisions last year in the Jewish community and and asked all those families to donate to the school rather than pay me a fee--that was another $1,200.

WE also have a bingo, which is a major undertaking and involves 6 hours of work twice per week. However, I have nothing to do with the bingo.

This is in addition to literally hundreds and hundreds of hours of work on educational issues, meetings with parents, meetings with teachers, discussions with the Principal regarding difficult issues, delegating fundraising tasks to other Board members and community members, etc. etc.

Not one child has been turned away from our school because of "minimum tuition" but families have been asked to sign IOU's for future payment, perform work for the school which reduces our costs, etc. This has saved the school a lot of money. In addition, many of these families will likely be in a different earning bracket in 10-15 years. I wish that families who were given free or minimal tuition arrangements 20 years ago were paying us IOU's now. Some families, who paid $100-$200 per child are now paying $2,400 per child. Some families show income statements which would put them far below the poverty line, but they are able to come up with large amounts of money to put kids in the pre-school program, for which there is no scholarship/discount available.

Anyone who truly cannot afford $2,400 per year is given opportinunties to meet these responsibilities with:
1. IOU's to be paid interest free in the future.
2. Fundraising.
3. Work for the school which lower's our costs
4. A combination of the above.

The minimum tuition for our school is $2,400 per child. This represents less than 30% of the cost of education per child, which is over $8,000. Our cost per child is among the lowest in the country, which is why I doubt very much that we can reduce costs further. Our teachers need raises but we cannot afford it.

I have personally prioritized my tzedaka toward our school. I do not want to disclose my income. I do ok, as a physician, but we are not wealthy. I will simply say that our donations exceed our ma'aser requirements and we give beyond the point that it hurts. I do not complain about this. It is our favorite mitzvah.

It is very easy for you to assume that the board is not doing enough. My point is that it would indeed be fair if the board decides to go around scrounging and begging to make up 70% of the costs for poor families, and asks these poor families to go around scrounging and begging, or at least sign interest free IOU's for the remaining 30%.

You call us elitist. We will call you an entitled spoiled brat, who thinks that you have a right to have other people do a ton of work to pay for your children. When those doing this work start to explain that they are having a very hard time and need you to do a little, your response is to call them names and tell them they are not working hard enough.

You are sarcastically apologizing for hurting my "sensitive feelings". I have no idea why. I never claimed that you hurt my feelings. My point is intellectual, not emotional. I am just pointing out that you have absolutely no solutions, no ideas, nothing. You are full of insults and arrogance, but you are totally useless. What you say is empty and pompous.

There is plenty of room for "other views" on this blog. The problem is that you don't have one. You just have names and insults.

Stop apologizing for being nasty. Instead, contribute to the discussion in a constructive manner. If you want to be nasty while you do it, fine. But you need to come up with SOMETHING! What you have to say is simply LAME.

nachum klafter, MD said...

Also, our board is a true cross section of our community. It includes some wealthy, some middle, and some poor individuals. It includes baalei batim, chabad shlichim, parents of kids, community members, etc. It is not composed of wealthy individuals. This is another of your incorrect and interesting assumptions.

The Board ultimately raises about 700K per year through fundraising and donations. There are other monies given by our Federation. I am always afraid were not going to make it, but each year we seem to miraculously squeak by, staying a bit in the red.

SephardiLady said...

The fundamental dogma should be access to a Jewish education, not keeping the doors open.

And, if the doors close due to lack of funds, there will be NO full time day school education for the Orthodox masses.

Orthodox Judaism has survived many thousands of years through community support without 'minimum' elitist nonsense. Ask any immigrant from Europe who learned in cheder.

Ask the immigrants from Europe and you will find out that the "average" boy only went to cheder through maybe the 5th grade. Girls education was only developing at the time through the Bais Yaakov movement and it certainly wasn't a "mass movement." Only the rare bochur was able to spend their "high school" years in Beis Medrash. And, only the creme de la creme learned post high school. Kollel was essentially unheard of. Jewish education in Europe was not "cradle to grave" and many were lost to assimilation because they did not have the structure for providing a strong basic framework for core years. Baruch Hashem today we have a proliferation of learning. But, we need to make it financially viable lest we loose what was worked for.

SL: "Currently, there is a glut of young people who are making decisions that will not allow them to pay much, if anything, in tuition. And, too many of them are living with the delusion that the community and other tuition payers will continue to pick up the excess, despite the facts: schools running in the red and even families with nice incomes being priced out."

Anonymous's response: This is mere unsubstantiated parable. You are saying something that may or may not be true to defend a viewpoint.


This is certainly NOT unsubstantiated. Many people often discuss this white elephant in terms of kollel, I think it goes beyond that as those who place themselves in financially tenuous positions are not limited to kollelniks. I could write an entire series of posts on many of my neighbors and friends who are or have put themselves in financially tenuous positions either because they got a late start on working and an earlier start on having children, or because they spent irresponsibly, or because they engaged in fast and furious "investing," etc, etc, etc. (I'm sure that you are capable of doing the same).

SephardiLady said...

There are hundreds of ways to raise money delineated on day school websites across the country.

You are welcome to email me a list of all of the ideas out there with links to their source and I will happily post it. But, as far as I can see, the 100's of ideas are not working very quickly as funding day school education is a struggle in nearly every locale. I do believe there should be greater efforts to share ideas and would love to see this blog become a place where ideas are shared. So, I welcome well written guest posts.

Of course there are great ideas out there. I've blogged about some of them from my perspective. You are welcome to take a look at the archieves since I have talked about United Yeshiva Funds, life insurance policies, and the 5% plan. (Actually, I'm not sure if I've blogged about that one. But, if I haven't I should. Or, maybe a Chicageon could give a report).

Hopefully some of the ideas will begin to pay off (after 120 years, as the case might be). But, unfortunately, with the day school situation as it is now in many communities, there needs to be both short term plans and long term development.

David said...

I'll say the very unpopular position out loud: I am appalled when people choose to have children and expect the community to pay for them.

I am appalled by the kollel infrastructure and the dependent attitudes it fosters.

I wonder what possible justification there can be, given that our history is filled with tremendous Talmidei Chachamim who were self-supporting rather than relying on charity.

Anonymous said...

"I raised about $25K in personal solicitations...For our raffle I raised $2,000

WE also have a bingo, which is a major undertaking and involves 6 hours of work twice per week...I performed 3 circumcisions last year in the Jewish community"

Good for you, the certificate is in the mail. I was hoping you would take the bait on this to expose the real problem. Your entire fundraising efforts include a dinner, raffle, and bingo (the last being a dreadful attempt requiring intolerable amounts of effort). You embrace exclusion with such alacrity, I wonder if you have spent at least twice as much time (about 5 minutes by my estimates) reevaluating your fundraiser and how to expand them.

I personally wrote checks for twice as much last year earmarked for local day schools, and paricipated in 5 times as many fundraisers both locally and internationally at various levels. Now you can send me a merit badge too. Simply supplying a list, even an exhaustive one (which yours is not), does not prove you are doing enough. If you are falling back on a policy that blacklists poor youth, you have ultimately failed in the most heinous way possible.

"Anyone who truly cannot afford $2,400 per year is given opportinunties to meet these responsibilities with:
1. IOU's to be paid interest free in the future.
2. Fundraising.
3. Work for the school which lower's our costs
4. A combination of the above"

Excellent! Finally some insightful thought and good ideas. I knew you were capable of this. So you don't really believe the extreme nonsense you published in the Ou magazine either. I didn't think so. You have proved my point for me.

"The minimum tuition for our school is $2,400 per child. This represents less than 30% of the cost of education per child, which is over $8,000. Our cost per child is among the lowest in the country, which is why I doubt very much that we can reduce costs further."

That isn't the point. If a family has zero income, it doesn't matter what the cost is, or how generous your precious disount is. They cant pay anything, end of story.

"You call us elitist. We will call you an entitled spoiled brat, who thinks that you have a right to have other people do a ton of work to pay for your children. When those doing this work start to explain that they are having a very hard time and need you to do a little, your response is to call them names and tell them they are not working hard enough"

You incorrectly assume I must be from the demographic I seem to be championing. I personally allocated more money last year to this cause than I care to divulge. Through certain connections I have, I raised many times more. I do a lot of this, honest. I do it mainly to prevent wreckless and wholely uninformed policy from ravaging our future.

"You are sarcastically apologizing for hurting my "sensitive feelings". I have no idea why. I never claimed that you hurt my feelings. My point is intellectual, not emotional. I am just pointing out that you have absolutely no solutions, no ideas, nothing. You are full of insults and arrogance, but you are totally useless. What you say is empty and pompous."

Got that out of your system? Now count to ten. Was this barrage of invective 'intellectual' or 'emotional'? Get over yourself, your delicate emotions, and being so consumed by rage. We are debating on an internet read by 5 people including us. I would hope as a physician you would have more equanimity and poise than that. Physician, heal thyself.

In the end, it seems you don't believe the utter nonsense you have broadcast nationally, evidenced by your list of solutions to the minimum tuition debacle. I hope your policy doesn't infect communities worldwide however. The resulting lost youth is on your conscience

Anonymous said...

"And, if the doors close due to lack of funds, there will be NO full time day school education for the Orthodox masses."

Of course I understand this. I am a bit smarter than I may appear on your blog. The point is where to place your kavana. It makes all the difference in the world.

"This is certainly NOT unsubstantiated."

It is unsubstantiated by YOU.

"Many people often discuss this white elephant in terms of kollel, I think it goes beyond that as those who place themselves in financially tenuous positions are not limited to kollelniks. I could write an entire series of posts on many of my neighbors and friends who are or have put themselves in financially tenuous positions either because they got a late start on working and an earlier start on having children, or because they spent irresponsibly, or because they engaged in fast and furious "investing," etc, etc, etc."

I fully understand this concept and am aware of the Rambam saying parnasa koidma ltorah. He actually said that. He was also a physician among other things. While historically I have generally shared dismay towards the kollel, I have recently become more knowledgeable on this matter and do see their merit beyond the important role as a source of torah study. They also help communities survive and thrive, by bringing small communities to critical mass. Many kollels are well funded from the outside believe it or not, and do not go begging door to door. They raise money much the way chabad does. Their wives are teachers, their kids fill small and empty classes, and their families support multiple synagogues, schools and restaruants. There are many examples of this all over the world.

I don't think the above poster who seems to equate a childs education to kollel in terms of the parasitic cost to society is accurate or fair however.

Anonymous said...

"Of course there are great ideas out there. I've blogged about some of them from my perspective. You are welcome to take a look at the archieves since I have talked about United Yeshiva Funds, life insurance policies, and the 5% plan. (Actually, I'm not sure if I've blogged about that one. But, if I haven't I should. Or, maybe a Chicageon could give a report)."

I simply don't have that kind of time. As you can see by my typos and poor grammar, these posts are written on the fly. I am willing to point you in the right direction however.

These are some excellent ideas, specifically the life insurance policy that have been implemented successfully in a small number of day schools. I would add bequests to this list, as one large payoff can sometimes solve a schools financial difficulties for decades. You need to examine schools where klafter's policy of destruction isn't rampant. Where a day school education is possible for 2k or less. There are lots of em out there believe it or not. Take a trip across the bridge to brooklyn. Many of them combine a beautiful wedding hall to subsidize the school. Look at other successful Jewish organizations like the federation. The model is out there for anyone willing to do a little bit of digging. You need to think outside the box a little though. When your best idea is a dinner and bingo, it's no wonder our schools are starving. Devout, tireless yet misguided efforts unforunately can set us back severely.

FrmrExecDir said...

I’d like to side-step the current ‘flame-war’ and get back to basics, if possible. As a former Executive Director of a Yeshiva High School, I feel the need to highlight a few points about tuition assistance and Day School finances from the perspective of the school.

As with any business, pricing yourself out of our customer base is a bad idea. I’m not talking about the common practice of setting tuitions insanely high as possible, offering tuition assistance to a larger segment of the population, and enjoying the income from the highest income families who pay in full. Regardless of the moral and ethical considerations of this practice, you have to admit that there is a certain business logic to it. Setting minimum tuitions prices has no business logic, even less if exceptions are the rule. If the minimum tuition is non-negotiable, you disenfranchise a whole segment of the community from Jewish Education. And if it IS negotiable, than what’s the point of setting it?

Another common practice is ‘topping off the class’. Say a school intends to have a freshman (or kindergarten – whatever) class of 25 students. Applications come in from November through June, and 22 slots are filled, with mostly paying customers. Say 80% of what the full tuition would have been. Now in July, three more applications come in, or were at the bottom of the stack on a waiting list. The administrator thinks, “Well, I already have the teacher ready to teach 25, and I have to pay her the same regardless. The heating, electricity of the school, etc. are fixed expenses regardless. Whatever these families pay, its gravy – money in the bank.” Now, there are pros and cons to this philosophy, but again, there is a business logic to it. If these parents can pay $2,000 each, but not the $3,000 each minimum tuition, do you throw away $6,000 on principle? And if you don’t, and you would accept the kids to fill the class, then what IS a minimum tuition?

I think it is a critical mistake to link the financial problems of many of our educational institutions with a lack of tuition. Sure – if there was an unlimited source of money, most schools could provide a quality educational product. But schools (on earth, without unlimited money) need to learn to live within their means, even as they seek to educate the community about how much a school really costs.

All too often, serious budgeting, reporting, and other fiscal management and analysis do not drive decision making. Sometimes these processes are neglected entirely, and other times there are enough steps between the budget process and whoever actually authorizes salaries and expenditures as to make the budget process almost meaningless. How many schools publish annual reports? Post publicly the salaries of their top administrators? Tax the tuition breaks given to employees (or know the legal reasons why they don’t, if any)? How many board members can ask for and receive within a week, the amount the school has spent on office supplies in the past year? Is there even someone to ask?

Tuition is the single greatest 'fundraiser' that schools have, but I have seen schools stubbornly spend much more time, energy and money on things more typically considered fundraising – lavish dinners and concerts, expensive and fancy Directors of Development (who rarely have, or are interested in obtaining, any actual training in fundraising), etc. – than on recruitment, retention, precision tuition assistance and collections. The entire net of ‘regular’ fundraising might be only 5-10% of a school's annual budget, while tuition usually accounts for 80-90%. Some might argue that the 80-90% is the ‘easy’ part, and the money and time spent on the 5-10% is well spent. I would submit that 5% (of the total budget) is quite low in terms of many school’s uncollected, bad-debt tuition, let alone the ‘fundraising’ done by cutting costs, increasing enrollment, and more closely scrutinizing and enforcing tuition assistance arrangements.

(The way that dinner obligations have become a part of tuition fees, and, depending on the PR/fundraising need, are counted as “dinner revenue” sometimes, or “tuition revenue” other times is another issue. Did the dinner *really* make $100,000? Or did 200 families paying dubiously tax-deductible $500 Dinner Obligations make the “profit” and actual contributions covered only the cost of the lavish $40,000 affair?)

In my opinion, a proper tuition assistance process provides anonymity for its applicants, investigates claims of need carefully, works creatively with parents on payment methods (more on this later), and provides as much information as humanly possible to a small, scrupulous, knowledgeable tuition assistance committee. The separation or connectedness of the educational and business sides of a school is a whole other topic, but suffice it to say that I don’t think it is healthy for educational administrators, such as roshei yeshiva, principals and the like, to get involved in this process, other than being a character reference as needed, and maybe handing out a form at an interview or open house.

A business professional in the school (Executive Director, or what have you) should be the link between the family and the family’s financial history with the school, and the tuition assistance committee. Families should not be subjected to the demeaning ritual of having to appear before the committee to plead their case, and committee members need not be influenced one way or the other by the emotions generated on both sides but such appearances. The information collected and organized by the business professional and provided to the committee to make their decisions should minimally include: Occupations and titles of working parents, all current tax returns, debt information and documentation, what the family paid in tuition the previous year for all children at all institutions, how much tuition assistance they received in the past year, what percentage of the full tuition was paid, amount past-due (if any), and any additional important issues that the committee should consider (most often: medical, employment, and divorce issues).

The tuition assistance committee should be made up of around five volunteers from within the school’s community. Too many more and the meetings can take forever or people become disengaged, to many fewer and there is a higher potential for group-think. A single person making the decisions is a bad idea for obvious reasons. The committee need not all be accountants or have backgrounds in business or finance, but having these skill sets on the committee is important. The critical requirements are discretion, dedication to the school, patience, attention to detail, evenhandedness, and availability for the meetings.

In my case, I attended the meetings as a non-voting facilitator. Committee members often asked me important questions about how a given family had dealt with the school in the past, and what their intentions were for the future. Having spoken often with the families throughout the year and during the application process, I was often able to shed light on a situation from personal experience and knowledge. After the committee ruled, I sent contracts to the parents, which they could appeal (back to the committee) as long as they were willing to write a letter documenting specific things they felt the committee might not have taken into consideration at all, or enough, the first time. Appeals had limited success, though occasionally the committee had truly missed something the first time through. Often, the committee would offer a nominal compromise to show good faith. I was then responsible for getting the contracts signed and overseeing the payment plans.

Meetings were long and draining, and would have seemed to many people the worst kind of torture. But to those of us who cared deeply about the financial robustness of the school, as well as being intensely aware of our tremendous opportunity for chesed, the importance of the decisions overcame all obstacles, and we were often still debating cases long into the night after the scheduled end of the meetings.

The general attitude of the committee was to challenge parents to pay a larger percentage than they had in the past. Certainly, if a family’s financial prospects had taken a turn for the better, but even if not – if total tuition had increased by a few hundred dollars, perhaps they could pay that increase in addition to what they paid last year, for example.

Innovation was the rule, rather than the exception. How about 12 monthly payments instead of 10, to lower the monthly payment? How about barter? Maybe a parent is a builder, a plumber, an electrician, a graphic designer, a photographer, a printer, an architect, a builder, etc. ? Certainly, they need to do quality work, and the amount of work needs to correlate with the amount of their benefit. But we do this with teachers, offering reduced tuition for their children, why not with other professions?

How about interest-free ‘loans’? Perhaps a parent is out of work temporarily, but had a good job before, and is hopeful that they will find a similar job soon – why not give them a reduced amount due monthly through the year, but a $5,000 (for example) interest-free ‘loan’ that comes due or will be renegotiated upon the end of the year, or a defined time period after the a new job begins? Some may argue about present-value, inflation and the like. Our school board argued (wisely, I think, having seen it in practice) that we would gain far far more in the combination of goodwill, fewer man-hours chasing down past-due monies, and the actual paid loans than we would lose.

As far as the school is concerned, it is in its best interest to be as flexible and creative as possible – as long as families are not taking advantage (more on this below). Anything it can do to increase its tuition revenue over a rigid system that forces families’ with financial situations in every shape under the sun into the same uniform pigeon holes is money the school was leaving on the table.

The parents, by and large, appreciated what we were doing. They understood the financial strain the school was under, and how their inability to pay on time and in full might impact the education for their child, and for all the children. They understood the need to have a loan or barter system in place to make up for the shortfall. The goodwill generated by working with families going through hard times is hard to quantify, but it is an important aspect as well. There are certainly opportunities to build relationships with families, by having honest discussions and trying to work through the issues with them, relationships that can endure long after the hard times are in the past, to when they, or their family may be in a position to make significant contributions to the school.

My attitude toward parents was to trust them until they gave me a reason not to. If a person has a cash or real estate business with sporadic cash flow, and they say they need tuition assistance unless they are allowed to come in with cash twice a year, why not give it a try? I might need the first payment – or a significant partial payment – to be the first week in September, so we aren’t waiting 6 months for a first payment, but why not get more overall for the school, rather than mandating 10 monthly payments and getting far less?

If a parent betrayed my trust, however, I had no problem going after them for the money that they owed. If they agreed that they owed the money, but needed more time in which to pay it, the policy of the school was to work with them. But to be complicit in their denial that they owed anything more? It wasn’t my money to forgive, or be lax about, it was mammon hekdeish – it belonged to the school to facilitate the education of the next generation of Jewry. Who am I not to try to get it in any legal way possible?

The best and most effective collections method begins months before the problem presents itself, by setting up a mutually agreeable set of obligations and schedule of payments. Most schools, though, do have situations where tuitions are past-due, and some schools have an inordinate amount. It is the responsibility of the school to accurately monitor their flow of tuition revenue month to month. If a family misses a payment, or a check bounces, the school needs to follow up with them right away in a courteous and respectful way (a business professional, not the rosh yeshiva). Waiting can only make the problem worse. Perhaps it was an oversight, perhaps the parents are trying to get away with something, but perhaps a more serious event has occurred – the loss of a job for example. In these cases, I tended to try to do some much-needed chesed, while protecting the interests (and PR) of the school, by implementing a reduced payment plan for the remained of the year, with a loan for the balance. In other words, a plan wherein the entire tuition allocated to the family at the beginning of the year would be paid by the end of the year, but would allow for the unfortunate event that had befallen the family with a reduced monthly payment in the interim. All past-due balances or loans needed to be resolved or renegotiated before a new application for assistance would even be considered for the following year.

In situations in which a disagreement ensues, a signed contract that documents a family’s tuition obligation is critical. Without it, how is the argument not just the parents’ word against the school’s word? With it, the obligated amount in abundantly clear, and rarely needs to be arbitrated (or prosecuted) in a public forum, which is usually undesirable for both the school and the family.

Parents who, despite a signed contract to the contrary, and without a legitimate life change to account for their inability to pay, refuse to pay their past-due balance, forfeit the privilege of having their child attend the school and receive grades and transcripts. I worked very hard not to let this happen, but at the end of the day, we cannot provide services without payment. Parents get livid about this sort of thing, but it’s really their own fault. We are not punishing their children, they are. If one does not pay their electric bill, eventually, the power is turned off. And you can bet that the electric company does not call and discuss and try to work creatively with parents as much as we did.

Coming back to the issue of minimum tuition, I don’t see the point. If it is a one-size-fits-all approach to tuition assistance, it’s a bad idea. Exceptions are made (or should be, where warranted) on the one side, and people will take advantage of it to pay less than they should on the other. (After much hand-wringing: “I think I can pay the minimum,” and grateful administrators or committee members agree and hand over the paperwork so they won’t need to actually spend time and energy on the case.) If it is an attempt to save the tuition assistance committee time and effort, this too is a mistake, for similar reasons. Injustices and money left on the table will be the results.

If the purpose is to educate families, to “push people to make different decisions, perhaps decisions that will allow for them to pay minimal tuitions,” as sephardilady wrote above, I would argue that this is not the function of the tuition process. If the school wants to offer seminars, or reach out to community rabbanim, or anything else to promote awareness of the cost of education, that’s fine. Ultimately, though, the school has control over whether a child is enrolled in the institution, or not. That’s it, really, but it is a powerful tool at the same time. If a school examines all of the information, and decides on a tuition amount for a family for the coming year, after all the negotiating is done, the parents can take it or leave it. I guess if you squint a little, I’m in favor of a customized, personal minimum tuition for each family. If the parents do take it, however, just as the parents are obligated to that amount by signing the contract, so too the school cannot expect to receive more. If one family owns a house, saves their money, and pays $X, while another family rents, spends beyond their means, and pays the same $X, what difference does it make to the school financially? I have heard of tuition assistance contracts that specifically bar the family from taking vacations, buying new cars and the like. If a family who signed a tuition contract and is paying on time chooses to take an expensive vacation or buy a boat, what right does the school have to legislate the family’s personal financial decisions?

Now – if the school wants to reevaluate the tuition assistance (or lack thereof) offered for the following year, that the school can do. If there is actual fraud in the tuition assistance application, the school can take legal action. If the parents take a vacation – or do no such thing, it doesn’t matter – and are defaulting on their tuition obligation, the school can work to collect it, and hold up the education of their child in the process. But that’s really it. Does it drive administrators and board members absolutely out of their minds to see a family on tuition assistance take the whole family to Israel for a month, or to see the High School junior drive up in a nice car (car + insurance, mind you)? Definitely. But ultimately, it is an unproductive and impotent rage. The family has the bechira chofshis to spend their money however they please, even if it doesn’t make sense to us, or to the values of the community, or even to halacha. If the school has recourse, they can take it. If they don’t, then the only thing they can do is to look at their tuition assistance process and make improvements – generally speaking, more information, better people, more time and energy – for next year.

Larger, successful, center/left institutions may have better systems in place, by and large, than smaller, less successful, right of center institutions, in general, and without offense meant. It was this inverse correlation between the ‘frumkeit’ of an institution and its professionalism and fiscal responsibility that got me into the industry to begin with, and ultimately, dumped me back out into the business world.

MRN said...

Wow. Every side has raised some interesting points. I have read it all, and I'm going to print and read it all again before making any of my own.

nachum klafter, MD said...

The point of minimum tuition is to declare a minimal responsibility which even an indigent family is obligated to fulfill in some way. If they can pay it in cash tuition, fine. If they cannot, it cannot be simply written off further. As I said in my article in Jewish Action, and again above, they can fundraise, provide work for the school which saves the school real money, or can sign an IOU. (Anonymous thinks I have backtracked, but he must not have read any of what I wrote very carefully.)

Your statment that "from a business point of view mininum tuition makes no sense" is exactly wrong in my opinion. When I went to yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael (Darchei Noam) I had absolutely no money and no income. I was required to sign an IOU for tuition, and began paying it off. I have now paid it off and I am now a modest donor to this institution as well.

I wish, very much, that the families who sent their children to our day school 20 years ago and paid 0 dollars tuition were paying us IOU's now. But they did not sign IOU's. There were people doing their residency trainings or in law school who had very little or no money for tuition 20 years ago to pay for their childrens' tuitions. At present, they are successful professionals in another city. I certainly wish that they were paying us money now.

Anonymous calls this attitude "destructive" and "elitist". I am amazed by this. Think about it: We are providing an education for your children which is discounted, because of your financial situation by 70% of the actual cost per child of education. If you truly don't have 30% now, you can pay what you are able, and sign an IOU for the rest, to be paid intrest free in the future when you no longer are paying any tuitions. This is an unbelievable generous arrangement. It is the height of entitlement and kafui tov to call this "elitist".

This is a discussion about TUITION. It is not a discussion about fundraising and cutting costs. I could write lenghty articles about keeping costs down, fudraising, lobbying the Federation to increase its allocation (which in our case is already fairly generous), 5% bequeathment commitments, instituting a kehilla wide ma'aser prioritization tax, etc. etc. ("Life Insurance" is a new one for me, and strikes me as sort of bizarre and convoluted, but I'd like to hear more about it.) But, that's not what Jewish Action was interested in having me do.

There seems to be an assumption above that since we are spending effort on collecting tuition, we must be neglecting fundraising or cost effectivenes. This is simply untrue. In fact, I think that all of these claims are distractions for the point of our discussion.

The question here is as follows: Should our schools establish a bare minimum obligation, below which no DISCOUNT is available. Our answer was YES, and we set teh amount at $2,400, which is roughly 30% of the cost of education per child. There are a variety of ways this obligation can be fulfilled. The simplest is with cash. But there are many others.

Another benefit of minimum tuition obligations are that wealthy members of the community are less resentful of their contributions because they see that everyone is attempting to contribute in some way. When asking for donations this past year, numerous donors were impressed that all parents are required to contribute

nachum klafter, MD said...

"I fully understand this concept and am aware of the Rambam saying parnasa koidma ltorah."

The Rambam never said any such thing. He poskinned that it is forbidden to be paid money in order to teach Torah. He never said it is forbidden for great Torah scholars to be supported by their community in their STUDY of Torah. He himself, as a Torah scholar, was completely supported in his Torah learning by his wealthy brother until a catastrophic sea accident which destroyed his brother's fortune and (if I remember correctly) his brother's life. He did not forbid receiving money for Torah study. His practice might not serve as a full precedent for extrapolation to the kollel system nowadays, but he can hardly be cited as someone who ruled against the kollel system.

Perhaps you are referring to this: In hilkhos Talmud Torah, he quoted the ma'amar chazal which states that "Any Torah study which is not accompanied by derekh eretz (commonly translated as work, or a trade) will come to nought." There are other understandings of the chazal however, and there are exceptions.

In any case, I agree with you that Kollels are not the problem for schools. In our case it is certainly not the problem, as our kollel pays significant tuition for the children of its staff.

"I personally allocated more money last year to this cause than I care to divulge.... I do it mainly to prevent wreckless and wholely uninformed policy from ravaging our future."

Ok. Transfer $150,000 to our school's bank account, and i will lower the minimum tuition for indigent families to $10 per month.

"...you don't really believe the extreme nonsense you published in the Ou magazine either. I didn't think so."

I have not changed my opinion at all. You didn't read my article carefully. I clearly stated that in cases of true hardship, work for the school, IOU's and other arrangements can be made. I am saying, however, that many families have NOT been contributing their fair share based on their means, and that this is one among many places that schools will now need to turn to improve their financial soundness.

The point we are discussing is establishing a bottom line minimal obligation. There are many schools that have NONE. Our school for many years had none. It got more and more in the red. Many people took advantage of it. I think that it is immoral AND poor business practice for the school to require NOTHING WHATSOEVER of any family. This is the issue of dicussion. Not creative fundraising, keeping costs down, etc.

Tuition is not THE place to make up a school's deficit. It is one of several places, however.

SephardiLady said...

Anonymous writes: Where a day school education is possible for 2k or less. There are lots of em out there believe it or not.

There are few to no schools in the US, that offer tuition of these amounts. Those that do are either Chassidish schools that operate in a completely different way. . . or schools with an underwriter (and, I don't think tuition is ever THAT low nor is the low tuition unending).

Former Executive Director-Thank you for weighing in. I hope you will become a regular poster since you have a nice ability to discuss the issues, despite the fact that inevitably there will be disagreements.

Since I found your post to offer new information, I'd like your permission to post it as its own post.

Regarding education the young people, the reason I find this necessary should be obvious. Unfortunately, from what I can see, during the high school years, and evenmoreso during the post high school Beis Medrash/Seminary years, our young people are being given a message that money grows on trees and that they can (and should) hold off their lives and that all will be OK.

In a previous post I posed the question of when is the appropriate time to discuss the "Financial Realities of Frum Life" here: (http://orthonomics.blogspot.com/2006/05/introducing-your-children-to-financial.html).

I firmly believe that if tuition were known, or it was known that a certain amount was expected, that people would make different decisions. Maybe you are correct that this should be the community's reponsibility to stress, rather than a school's responsibility. But, then again, oftentimes the schools pass on a different message and a unified one would be best.


Dr. Klafter-I really, really appreciate your continuing participation and call upon anonymous to stop flinging accusations and start discussing.

I think the IOU policy run through your school is quite generous and makes a lot of sense, especially when you are giving assistance to families that hopefully will be earning in the future. A while back, I wrote about my doubts to an interest free loan program that is apparantely being rolled out as we speak here:

http://orthonomics.blogspot.com/2006/03/interest-free-loans-for-jewish.html.

Your interest free loan program seems quite different and interesting (perhaps you would hesitate to lend $80K to a family). I'd like to here more about how you set the IOU amount, what factors you look at, and more and would welcome a guest post.

Dr. Klafter, a link to the Life Insurance idea is here and it links to the website I found the idea on: http://orthonomics.blogspot.com/2006/02/united-yeshiva-and-hebrew-day-school.html

Like the 5% plan, the payoff isn't for a long time. But, I think it has merits for the long term and should be explored.

Sorry for disjointed thoughts. I'm thrilled there is so much discussion going on. But, it makes it hard to put together a quick coherent post.

SephardiLady said...

In any case, I agree with you that Kollels are not the problem for schools. In our case it is certainly not the problem, as our kollel pays significant tuition for the children of its staff.

I think we need to remember that there are two different types of kollelim: 1. Community Kollels which are essentially adult education programs and more and 2. Kollelim of married learners (a la "Lakewood" and others).

FrmrExecDir said...

I wish that Dr. Klafter would not feel the need to respond to and refute everything that Anonymous says, and instead return to the issue at hand by responding to my lengthy post above.

MRN said...

Here are some of my preliminary thoughts. A little bit of background on me: current tuition-paying mother with an MBA in finance and economics.
1. I believe the burden of providing a child with a Jewish education is the burden of the parents AND the community, not just the community. Thus, every school should set a minimum tuition per student, not per family. If every school would do this, parents would not be able to shop their kids between different schools as the kids to 'top off the class'. In my opinion that is not fair to the families who are the backbone of the school, regardless of household income. When a family cannot pay do to adverse circumstances, they should sign an IOU or agree to work off the tuition by teaching or otherwise working to offset the total financial burden on the school. If a person learning full-time in kollel refuses to learn with baalei baatim or teach chosson classes to meet his obligation, I question why my dollars should be educate his children.
2. Get rid of the dinners. Sell ads in a journal and honor donors at an event where coffee, tea and rugelach are served. Net savings is $40K per year, per school. Not chump change.
3. Educate yourself how tuitions were paid in Europe and how they are currently paid in Satmar, a school system which I have been told enrolls 10% of the yeshiva students in NY. Tuition is paid monthly directly to the rebbe. If you don't pay, he doesn't get paid, and he doesn't teach your kid that month. That's how it worked in Europe, too.
4. Accept the input of people with a background in finance and economics. My overtures to help my kids' school were rebuffed with the response "volunteer with the PTA to prove yourself". Bake sales ain't gonna solve the day school tuition crisis, people -- like SephardiLady, I know for a fact that we have to get more non-Jewish dollars into our community or the school will simply cease to function. How do we do that? We encourage everyone who is not disabled to get a job. Learning in kollel for 25+ years and expecting the community to educate your children is not fair to the rest of us. We did not hire you to have children for us. We want to have our own children, too.
5. Revamp the shidduch scene. We currently have 1000's of young guys at Lakewood, etc., who have been told they can't get married if they go to college or work for a living. Come on, already. In my opinion the Agudah and other ultra-Orthodox leaders have the obligation to speak out against this just as they have spoken out again other wastes of the community's money.

Areilla said...

Mispacha Magazine is running a 2 part series on tuition. I posted about its representation of figures on my blog. As they would charge you for the article alone, Sephardi Lady, I can mail you the 2 parts together after next week if you are interested.

Ariella said...

whoops, mistyped my name -Ariella

SephardiLady said...

Please mail me the article Ariella. Sounds like something worth posting on (especially after checking out your post!).

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to point out one way which the Yeshiva parents can save tens of thousands of dollars.

There is no doubt that the tuitions are inflated because of the many parents that understandably cant pay full tuition. I believe its clear that Yeshiva tuition is not tax deductible. If the community could raise the funds so that students who cant afford the tuition, would be subsidized to perhaps $5,000 for tuition, the cost of tuition could go down.

The parent who paid $10,000 for their child, if the tuition was lowered to $8,000, they could donate the additional $2,000 as a deductible donation.

Perhaps an accountant could estimate the tax savings, but I would think there would be significant savings.

SephardiLady said...

I'll chime in as the accountant on the above comment by (a new?) anonymous:

The tax savings in the most simple terms (assuming one can itemize, in general only homeowners itemize) is one's marginal rate multiplied by the donation. So, if one's marginal rate is 25%, there would be a tax savings of $500 for every $2000 donation. Unfortunately, tax is never so simple, and a lot of upper-middle income people are running into the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax) and their deductions get phased out and they do not benefit the itemized deductions to the same degree.

And now from a different business and marketing perspective:

Unfortunately, it is near impossible to lower donations and hope that parents will donate the difference. In the Jewish Action Tuition Issue there was an interesting article on the SAMIS Foundation in Seattle that has underwritten much of the cost of high school education. Originally it was believed that tuition would be lowered and parents would make tax-deductible donations from their tzedakah funds to the school and tuition could remain extremely low for many years to come.

Unfortunatly, as the article states, things didn't work out exactly as planned and tuition has been raised (although it is still a bargain).

I guess the bottom line is that communal support is a must if schools plan to survive, much less thrive. Yet, nobody has invented the marketing campaign that puts Jewish Education as the foremost destination for contributions. Somehow the community will need to figure out how to make K-12 education the "sexy" cause to donate to.

Thanks for joining in (new?) anonymous.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:36 -- It's not clear that your proposed system is actually legal. In order to legitimately claim the deduction, you have to prove that your payments exceeded the cost to educate your child. So there has to be complete transparency of costs, including disclosure of the salaries of the administration and teachers, which are never, ever disclosed at day schools. In addition, most schools to get Federation and other non-tuition revenues, so the amount you donate should be offset by donations your child received from these groups. It's complicated.

My understanding is that even though everyone who itemizes deducts these 'dinner' and 'scholarship' contributions, whenever the IRS has been asked to rule they have been disallowed.

That being said, my school has this scheme.

Anonymous said...

Thank you sephardilady, I was aware that AMT could minimize the savings. I posted once earlier as well, as a member of a board and scholarship cmte. I agree that it would be difficult to get people to donate the extra $2,000 in this case. That is probably where a community endowment fund should come in to play. If the whole community would contribute to a fund, then the tuitions could easily be lowered, and there would likely be alot of tax dollars saved.
It is quite clear that there are many talented investors in our communities, who have great expertise in real estate, stocks, and business. If only we could have invested in education years ago, we wouldnt be having this discussion about minimum tuition. I personally have invested succesfully on behalf of a Yeshiva at my own risk, and it has been very succesful. There is no doubt that alot more can be done and I hope you can somehow discuss this topic in the future.

Thank You for this forum to discuss this topic, unfortunately I think it will get worse, before it gets better.

HHH

SephardiLady said...

The short of the long of it is that donations must be completely voluntary to be tax deductible. If a school requires payment for a scholarship fund as part of the tuition package, it is not deductible. If a school requires payment for a dinner as part of the tuition package, it is not deductible.

But, as we know, every school does it and most taxpayers can and will take these deductions.

I think I will make a short post on this topic so that people are informed on the law. It probably is safe to take these deductions if they are limited. But, I know those who are in tax law and accounting refrain.

(Note: Chinese Auctions, Raffles, Bingo, etc are NEVER deductible, despite the fact you may get a receipt back. The IRS defines the value of what you receive as the amount you paid and considers these types of fundraisers "gambling."}

SephardiLady said...

HHH-It really is too bad that we even have to have these discussions and that we are just starting to think forward. I hope you are wrong that it will get worse before better.

But, the indicators are there in my mine that confirm your statement.

Hope you will join in conversations in the future and also, feel free to take a look at the Archives.

Anonymous said...

There is one factor that Im not sure has been specifically addressed, and I think its a clear trend all over. Young couples are being faced with a choice. Do I want to own a home, or do I want to pay tuition. There is no money for both. The percentage of income that is being used to pay for a home is scary in many cases. But can you blame people for wanting to have their own home. Unless home prices really collapse, this is a trend that is getting far worse.

HHH

nachum klafter, MD said...

FRMREXECDIR:

Sorry, I've been busy since my last post. I don't disagree with much that you've writte and we do much of what you are talking about.

I will try to post at length motzei shabbos.

The only disagreement is that you think minimum tuition makes no business sense. I disagre strongly for these reasons:
1) It is not a supply/demand classic market. We are stuck with ALL the kids in the community unless we turn them away, and they are stuck with us because we are the only frum school and a Torah education for their children is a must.
2) We will get more money, save money, or get money through IOU's in the future by setting a minimum obligation. These are real dollars, and they add up.
3) Resentment by the middle and upper class families is ameliorated when they realize that EVERYONE is paying or contributing in some way.
4) Donors are impressed that EVERYONE is contributing in some way and feel better about their donations.
5) It is unethical to allow people to pay nothing when they are able to contribute in some way.
6) Too many families distort or outright lie about reporting their income, and a minimum tuition obligation which is non-negotiable allows us to avoid this nonsense with such families. When they are faced with paynig 2400 bucks per child or coming in and doing work, the lying families come up with the money.
7) Morale improves when low income parents make contributions to the school. They are proud of what they do and their contributions. They feel part of things, and less disenfranchised.

I think it has been very positive all around to do this. It is not "suicidal" and "destructive" as inappropriately charaterized above.

Anonymous said...

"His practice might not serve as a full precedent for extrapolation to the kollel system nowadays, but he can hardly be cited as someone who ruled against the kollel system."

This has absolutely nothing to do with my point whatsoever. I suppose it easier to win an argument of your own making.

"Ok. Transfer $150,000 to our school's bank account, and i will lower the minimum tuition for indigent families to $10 per month."

What makes you think I would fund or solicit funds for an organization with such a self defeating policy? I certainly hope other national organizations that support day schools with grants, gifts and the like have the same kind of reaction. It may make your tireless fund raising efforts that much more difficult.

"I have not changed my opinion at all. You didn't read my article carefully. I clearly stated that in cases of true hardship, work for the school, IOU's and other arrangements can be made."

This is all the difference in the world. The problem is you are broadcasting a dangerous message. How do you know who has been kept out? Are you certain that there are families who may not have bothered approaching an institution that has the emblem of 'miminum tuition' branded to its front door. I would suggest my extensive experience, likely many years more than yours suggests otherwise. You can only speak of those who approach you with a deal.

I would further add, that our discrepency is more of a philosophical one. You don't truly believe in absolute minimum tuitions if you provide so many different outs. The problem is the message you are sending, and this matters the most. It is perfectly reasonable and acceptable to have tought scholarship screening where appropriate. But your message of doom will deter and repel families without your knowledge. The message should primarily be all Jewish kids get an education. I can easily come up with a list of a 100 peers and friends who would not be orthodox today had such an evil administrative tenet been imposed in their respective day schools. Your starting point is entirely corrupt.

"The point we are discussing is establishing a bottom line minimal obligation. "

Thanks for refocusing me, I don't know what I would do without it. I may not be a physician, but I am capable of abstract thought Doctor Klafter MD.

"There are many schools that have NONE. Our school for many years had none. It got more and more in the red. Many people took advantage of it."

There are also many more schools that have none and are quite successful, especially in outreach a value far more important than yours. There are also many many ways to deal with parents who take advantage. Your policy punishes the indigant for the crimes of the reach. Double shame on you.

"I think that it is immoral AND poor business practice for the school to require NOTHING WHATSOEVER of any family. "

I think your policy of destruction is immoral. What would you do for a homeless child whos parents were killed in a car crash taken in by the community with absolutely no resources at all. Your policy would kick him to the curb. Or perhaps you would require this poor 4th grader to paint the halls of your precious school after hours? Your policy is morally corrupt, and I ashamed that there are day schools that embrace such a nasty idea. I can only hope your community will express as much dismay and repopulate the board with people who understand Torah values a little bit better.

"another benefit of minimum tuition obligations are that wealthy members of the community are less resentful of their contributions because they see that everyone is attempting to contribute in some way."

Well thank goodness for that, pacify the wealthy and prevent the indigant from obtaining a Jewish education. What would our day school system do without you?

"When asking for donations this past year, numerous donors were impressed that all parents are required to contribute"

I will bet, in fact I KNOW there are many others who find your policy disgraceful.

SephardiLady said...

HHH-You make an excellent point (and one we can relate to). Unfortunately, even with rental prices in some areas, I have to wonder if there is even money for renting and tuition.

Another point that should be make is that their are tuition paying people who are only financing yeshiva education through debt (home equity lines of credit, credit cards, etc). If the housing market cools and they have already borrowed to their equity limit, they will have to also ask for scholarships.

I would not advocate debt financing a K-12 education, but plenty of people have done it there is a point where families will have maxed out and will also need assistance, despite their past record.

SephardiLady said...

Anonymous 3:57: Please keep the rhetoric to a minimum.

Dr. Klafter-I find your points quite poignant, especially #7. I was planning a follow-up post with a similiar point.

MRN said...

Anonymous 3:57 -- I am a tuition paying member of the community and I support minimum tuitions. In addition, I find your vitriolic outburst to be unhelpful to the discussion at hand. We are not talking about imaginary fourth grade orphans. We're talking about families where the grandparents buy the kids expensive houses, cars and vacations, but show $18K on their tax returns so feel entitled to zero tuition for their children. We're talking about lifelong learners with 8 or more children in local yeshivot, who refuse to become school rebbeim in exchange for tuition. We're talking about people with very high incomes who try to blackmail the school, saying, I'm going to pay zero, like it or not, or my child will go to public school. In econnomics, these families are known as freeriders. Minimum tuition plus IOU's and/or work obligations addresses much of the freerider problem. You can argue emotionally all you want, but you can't argue away the economics of the situation. Adverse selection, free riders, cost disease of the service sector, etc. are all Econ 101 concepts. I guess you failed the class.

FrmrExecDir said...

Dr. Klafter,

Don't appologize for being busy! I look forward to your continuing involvement in this conversation, Motzai Shabbos, or whenever.

I am not sure where you got the impression that my position was to allow families to pay nothing. Every last family in the schools in which I worked, for all the years, was required to pay something. Not a single student recieved a completely free ride.

Even people who had challah and grape juice delivered to their door erev shabbos were required to come up with something.

We reaped all the advantage of points 3,4,5 and 7 above.

As I mentioned in passing in my too-lengthy post, I suppose that I am in favor of a minimum tuition, as long as it is scrutinized and customized specifically to each family.

However, a minimum tuition the way you describe it just seems like semantics to me. I think it doesn't make business sense to employ a hard minimum. And if it ISN'T a hard minimum, than isn't it just semantics?

Points 1 and 6 above are arguments for my more time consuming, more detailed, but ultimately more profitable and just tuition assistance processes. One-size-fits-all doesn't accomodate all children better than examining each situation seperately. Likewise if parents are trying to get away with something.

I can hear point 2, but then this really IS about semantics and marketing - setting expectations - and not really about a hard minimum tuition. I think the same or more revenue could be put into IOUs, etc. simply by looking at the full tuition as obligitory, and working backward to the maximum number the family would except in an IOU. An IOU can always be renegotiated, extended, or forgiven later, but at least it is signed for and on the books today.

Steve Brizel said...

Disabled and disowned-Your situation is a genuine tragedy which we all should prepare for Chas Ve Shalom with insurance, etc. I am appalled that your community basically treats you like a leper and that no prominent RY, rav,etc hasn't been contacted on your behalf.

Many of us talk about savings for weddings, college or a family member in a kollel. However, I suspect that this element in many cases means ignoring credit cards that glow at night because of the bills, etc.

Here is a more practical observation-We were involved in the groundwork for a special needs program.All of the prior programs had collapsed for lack of support from the mainstream schools. We knew that none of these schools would do anything except give us space and shep nachas at our program while we raised the money, interviewed staff, etc,It required a lot of networking with local rabbonim , consciousness raising to put the issue on the communal agenda, creating an organizational structure and incessant fundraising ranging from cake for Shavuous to car washes to a Melevah Malkeh with a geat speaker to flowers and the typical parlor meetings. It took a lot of work but we all knew that this was the only way that we could get the program up and running.

I think that every school would welcome more lay input and volunteers into its fund raising efforts. Too often, we see a dinner tacked onto tuition with no expectation of any other help except a possibly mega donation down the road. Dinners are unfortunately a necessary evil of all frum communal organizations, but we need to welcome people who can contribute fund raising and other ideas into our communal boards so that we can avoid the ossification of the communal arteries that is too often the case in our mosdos. IMO, too many of our mosdos suffer from the inability to think outside the proverbial envelope.

jdrens said...

The issue of yeshiva tuition is a very complex issue and One that I am personally involved with both from a parental standpoint as well as an employee standpoint (husband of a teacher). The problem that we face as a collective group is that we are individuals each trying to provide, subsidize and maintain our own quality education. We should take a page out of the catholic churches book and share the costs. The is NO reason that a yeshiva in Brooklyn should not be be working with a yeshiva in NJ to cut its costs (etc etc) even though the yeshiva in Brooklyn may and probably does have a different hashkfa then the one in NJ. The yeshiva in NJ might be one that has mixed classes and the one in Brooklyn might be a boys only yeshiva but they each have much more in common then they have differences. They each need to provide paper, They each need to provide health care to the teachers. The economics of this world is volume discounts. It is time that ALL Jewish schools worked together to lower costs.
This is how the catholic schools can be less expensive then the jewfish schools. I know they do not need 2 teachers per child but there costs have always been less. The sharing or cooperative can lower the costs to us the consumer. There are many more volume discount opportunities amongst the schools, If we can only work together we can save money and lower the costs.

If a box of people costs 5x in staples, then if you are buying 10 boxes at a time you will save. If you buy 100 then you save more and if you buy 1000 you save even more. The same is true with health care. 100 teachers is one price 1000 teachers is much less. Share and work together.

SephardiLady said...

jdrens-I agree with you completely. I have said this in other areas of my blog that we need to take advantage of economies of scales and that our schools are far too independent. Unfortunately, the chances of getting two schools to buy toilet paper together, e.g., is slim to none.

But, parents should be pushing for such to happen.

Also, Catholic Schools can and DO close/combine schools when their population shrinks and a school is just too small. We have become too caught up in ideals and are missing a lot of much needed efficiency.

Hope to see you back and contributing. :) Good Shabbos.

jdrens said...

what I suggest is that we put our collective heads together to find a away to start a "sharing" program between 2 dissimilar yeshivot. I think the only way "They" will listen to "Us" is by a documented success. There must be people out there who would be ready willing and able to get a "Pilot" program off the ground. If we started with 2 schools and saved x then it is easier to sell to others. To be able to say we saved school x and school y money on their health insurance or on something it will be much easier to get school 3 and 4 involved. I suggest that the first step is a targeted plan on one or 2 items that can save schools money. The idea of the pilot is not save on everything but to show what can happen when we work together. The readers of this blog can make a difference................

good shabbos.