I always love getting reader questions and I received a number of questions this past week. I'm going to start labeling reader questions as "Ask Orthonomics."
A reader writes with the following dilemma:
I think there are two ways of evaluating this situation:
His family came to the decision that they would remove their children from a school that they really like and that they want to see prosper, and enroll their children in a less expensive school that they also like. They are pleased with their decision.
However, a board member contacted them and asked them if they would stay if the
school matched the tuition of the other school. No official offer has been made by the school yet, but it is a possibility that one will come through. The family is uncomfortable accepting tzedakah, but the school really wants to retain students.
1. The short-term: If the school makes a counter offer less than two months before the start of school, I don't think accepting the counter offer can be viewed as taking tzedakah funds. Enrollment is in, teachers have been hired, the fixed costs should be known at this point, and if there are empty seats in any classroom, it makes sense for the school to try to fill them with students that can pay more than their marginal cost. A family that has left the school because of cost issues, yet returns at a lesser cost is helping the school, even if they are receiving a discounted price. Likely the board member trying to win you back is well aware that
2. The long-term: Assuming the school comes through with a counter-offer this year, 2 months before the start of school, it is unlikely that the school will continue to extend such an offer in future years. That means that come year two you will be back in the same boat where you have to choose between a) applying for financial aid or b) switching to the less expensive school. I imagine that you could switch to a less expensive school and then be invited back, but chances are you don't care to be in limbo months before the start of school.
I don't think that you can view a potential counter-offer on the tuition cost this close to the new school year as robbing the scholarship fund. If there are empty seats and you can pay, you are contributing to the school's bottom line.
Ultimately it looks as though switching schools is likely inevitable. If that is the case I think the decision you make, should a counter-offer materialize, would be best based on educational and social factors. Will an extra year in the original school be of benefit to your children? Will switching schools in the future prove difficult for your children? Is there a particular teacher/resource you would like your child to have this coming school year? Is there a particular class grouping you would like your children in/rather your children avoid? If there are differences in school schedules, which schedule best suits your children for the coming year?
Hope this helps.
Readers, please do comment.