I feel like my blog is on tuition post overload, so I promise a change of pace soon.
Marvin Schick is back to writing a lot about the tuition crisis. While this article is about the possibility that some Modern Orthodox families will crack under the current pressures and withdraw their children from day schools as charter schools and programs like the proposed Hebrew Immersion program in Englewood develop, the note that jumped out at me was this:
Charedi or fervently Orthodox schools invariably live with tight financial shoes, even in the best of times. These institutions are, in the main, relatively generous in providing scholarship assistance to needy families and their tuition base is weak. The sharp economic downturn is making matters a good deal worse. A large girls school in Brooklyn is months behind in payroll and is planning to reduce its faculty by forty. A yeshiva tells me that it is five months behind and another that it is seven months behind and so it goes, without a silver lining to be seen.
What school has 40 employees to lay off? Goodness, my own public high school of 1500 only employees 60 teachers!
While Mr. Schick focuses on the troubles that lie ahead for the Modern Orthodox world (in an earlier article he writes, "greatest damage will occur at non-Orthodox day schools and perhaps also Orthodox schools that serve a modern clientele because a combination of high tuition and lost income and savings will result in the withdrawal of students who will transfer to public school."), I think it should be self-evident that the grass isn't greener on the other side of the hill. At least he doesn't make the call for voucher or government funding realizing that it just won't happen.
What he does suggest are the following:
- Jewish Education, Inc.-Stop spending money of expensive training programs, trips, conferences, and conventions. The money is better used at the local level.
- Merger - The least likely approach. Mr. Schick points out that 40% of all yeshivas and day schools enroll fewer than 100 students (and yes, many of them are in large metro areas).
- Cooperative Activities - If mergers are impossible, sharing resources amongst smaller schools.
- Annual Dinner - Cut costs around the edges.
- Trips - Give parents a break and reduce trips.
- Conventions and Conferences - Schools should not be spending on these trips, especially while their obligations are not being met.
- PTA - Should consider how to directly assist school officials with their obligations.
- Attitude-"What is essential is the recognition that there is a crisis, that this is not a time for business as usual. Nor is it the time for denial of reality or its corollary in our religious life that faith is essential and that with faith alone Torah institutions will get by."