I have no clue why it has taken so long for region to implement something so logical as to have a single address where community members can donate to area schools. I reported on this idea as proposed by Elliot Pasik before the inception of this blog. The advantages of a central fund (regional/city funds being my own preference) include placing money into day schools in general, rather than into a single day school that may fail (three years later I believe the cracks are r"l starting to form) and a greater ability to attract large donors interested in a cause rather than a particular school.
Fortunately there is finally a fund in Northern New Jersey. Time will tell just how successful the kehillah fund is. The goal stated is to near 100% participation in demonstration that funding schools is a communal obligation. I think the goal is a bit, uh, lofty given that at least 1/3 of students in modern orthodox schools are on some sort of tuition assistance. It would seem that those families should be directing what they can to their own schools, should they be able to give. It should be interesting to see how the fund develops. Hopefully it will thrive.
The fund as proposed is to collect funds centrally through participating Orthodox shuls, and then distributing these funds to the schools in the network based on the number of students.
But is distributing the funds per capita the best idea? I guess you could say that I was hoping for a little more supervision regarding distributing funds. I am told that in Northern New Jersey the modern Orthodox schools are bursting at the seams. So perhaps my comment is not particularly applicable to Northern New Jersey. But in other communities, there are schools with numerous empty seats, that could literally be absorbed into another school with some empty seats with little to hire additional administration, staff.
Of course the parents in these very small schools have chose these schools for good reasons. But having schools that are not filled to capacity not particularly efficient and distributing per capita does nothing to address this conjecture.
Unlike the Catholic Diocese, the Jewish community has no ability to combine smaller schools or close schools that are near death. What I do believe that the community has an ability to do via communal funds is to set up parameters regarding qualification. I hope those administering communal funds will consider setting up parameters regard transparency, enrollment, efficiency, hiring, debt load, sound financial management, etc. I think it behooves communities to invest only in schools that are a "going concern" if the talk of potential school failures isn't just hysteria.
At the end of the article are the following quotes:
"The kehillah fund will not solve the tuition crisis, but it is a good first step"
"Every dollar raised by the fund is a dollar the schools do not have to charge in tuition"
“The impact is going to be on funds available for scholarship, which will mitigate future tuition increases."
I'm a bit confused. If the funds are going to be used to increase scholarships, I don't see how tuition can be lowered across the board.
If the funds are going to be used to lower tuition at all, I don't believe you can also increase scholarships.
What am I missing? I'm sure I'm missing something.
Anyways, the fund is a good start. But like it says in the article, it will not solve the tuition crisis. I do think a communal fund administered with strict parameters could encourage the very things that will help