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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Potpourri: Chanukah Gelt, Fundraising, Lending, and Fraud

---The time has come in which schools and Parent Teacher Associations start collecting for holiday gifts. I turned over my check last week and the money is being handled by the president of the PTA who is picking out gifts for the staff and will be letting us know shortly what was collected and what was gifted. School administration is uninvolved with collection and distribution of the funds and contributions are optional. Thankfully we were able to contribute the modest amount requested.

In other schools, the dance is a bit different. Years ago, a friend of mine told me that the Rebbes in her children's school go home with thousands of dollars each Chanukah. In her school, gifts are given to the Rebbes directly by parents/students in a custom known as Chanukah Gelt. Let us leave aside the tax issues for a moment (I do believe this money should be processed through payroll and subject to normal with holdings) and consider the inequity such a practice could potentially create. This custom, as well as the expectation of tipping camp counselors to increase their pay, are problematic and create plenty of animosity.

---The Jewish Standard has another article on the community funding model . I'm glad some people are more optimistic than I because being told that a large and growing communal fund isn't going to lower tuition, but rather just stem the tide of future increases isn't particularly encouraging. I mean, how much higher can tuition go?

The reader who kindly sent me the story informs me that the lowest listed tuition for a school funded by NNJKIDS is $15,000. After five months of fundraising, eight elementary schools received money each received a little over $22,000. There are still many influential people who believe that more fundraising is the answer to communal issues. And certainly where communal fundraising helps the schools communicate, there is a positive benefit. But, as far as I am concerned, the only way to get to the bottom of the issue is to shrink the infrastructure. Meanwhile, I'm told that the infrastructure continues to expand at a multi-million dollar cost.

---Meanwhile, the Jewish Worker asks an important question based on a Mishapacha article, namely are (money lending) gemachs harmful? I do believe there is a prohibition in extending a loan for which payment is simply impossible. Yet in Israel, running from gemach to gemach is a known sport. Borrowed money is known to play into increased costs. I read an interesting article recently in an economic publication that made the argument that had mortgage borrowers been required to place a traditional down payment on homes, there would not have been a bubble to burst.

Here in our own little bubble we are seeing that unsustainable spending habits, fueled largely by credit, have pushed the cost of Orthodoxy into the stratosphere. The extension of credit isn't being used to fund new businesses or learning vocations. It is mostly being used to fund consumption. A return to the (very Jewish) concept of thrift coupled with an avoidance of debt would be most helpful in restoring some economic sanity. It is time to leave this culture of debt behind at the individual level and the organizational level. See a previous post of mine: A Plan that Starts with Debt isn't Must of a Plan.

---Remember that offhand comment from the 5Towns Newspaper Editor to the visiting Rebbe about laundering money to the Eida faction through American schools? Well, it seems that someone is one step ahead because something fraudulent (or is more tzniut language "not nice") is going on in Yerushalayim as Education Ministry officials have discovered that 20,000 Eida Haredit children's names have been used by other Haredi schools that do accept "Zionist money." I'm not quite sure how those names and identification numbers ended up in the hands of the other G-d fearing administrators, but something is definitely fishy. The Eida has proclaimed that they are "aware of the phenomenon." Nevertheless, they refuse to cooperate in the investigation out of ideological motives. I guess theft isn't tzniut or Shabbos, so it isn't important.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Similarly the existence of financial aid, mostly loans, is what leads college tuition to be so ridiculous these days, roughly double what it was just 15 years ago.

Orthonomics said...

Absolutely. See this post from just a bit ago: http://orthonomics.blogspot.com/2009/10/economics-of-education-average-cost-i.html

Anonymous said...

I would love to see schools have a no tips/ no gifts for the faculty/staff policy, with the possible exception of gifts worth less than some deminimis amount -- i.e. $10.00. There is something unseemly about large gifts/tips to teachers and rebbes who are in the position to give grades/recommendations/extra attention etc. to students. No matter how much they may try to be objective, they are human and there can be an appearance of impropriety even where there is no actual impropriety. I don't think parents of public school students or college students would ever dream of large (or even small) cash gifts to a teacher or school administrator even in wealthy school districts.
This also creates undue pressure on parents. If the rebbes and teachers aren't being paid enough, there should be a different way to address that.

I also like the alternative you have where the funds are bundled by the PTA so the recipients don't know who contributed what.

Orthonomics said...

There is something unseemly about large gifts/tips to teachers and rebbes who are in the position to give grades/recommendations/extra attention etc. to students

The rest of the world has a word for this: bribery!

I believe some of the mefashim point out that a Cohen/High Priest can't marry a divorcee because there will always be rumors that the Cohen casued the breakup for his own purposes. Moshe Rabbeinu also avoided the appearance of any impropriety. Certainly a custom that creates inequity and is not in line with the instructe tzedek, tzedek tirdof should go the way of the horse and buggy.

And if avoiding negative feelings, true or false, within the kehillah isn't motivation, it is just simply unwise to set up a system of gifts that creates legal issues. I think we have had enough of that for the next 10 years!

Anonymous said...

I don't like to be so cynical about NNJKIDS because it's good that NNJKIDS is are trying, but who do they think they are kidding? If each school received $22,000, and let's say each school has approximately 300 students, that about $75 per student.

As a sidebar, I think it's a moral imperative to keep tuition costs as low as possible. If we really believe what we say, that it is essential for every Jewish child to receive a Jewish education, then our focus should be on keeping costs as low as possible. Our focus shouldn't be on having art, music, clubs, grand buildings, etc. And at $15,000 per student per year, basic economics says we've got a big problem.

tesyaa said...

Anon 11:22

1) The problem is, a lot of the buildings have already been built.

2) If nominal tuition is $15K, then tuition per child is far less than $15K per kid because nominal tuition is inflated to cover tuition assistance. And yes, there are parents paying full freight, covering their own kids and several other kids.

It seems to me that those receiving assistance would be less likely to support cuts in programs (art, music, gym, special events) because they are already getting more than they're paying for. These are all benefits that they're not paying for.

Anonymous said...

To Tesyaa:

Anonymous 11:22 here.

Your points may be correct, but, my point (and I'm not sure that you would disagree) is that a Jewish education is unlike other goods. If I can't afford a Lexus, I buy a Toyota. If I can't afford to buy a house, I rent. But what do you do if you really can't afford the basic tuition (keeping aside dishonest folks)? You can't trade down because its a religious necessity, so you ask for a scholarship. Then you possibly get abused and embarrassed.

To minimize this and perserve personal dignity, the school should say before we expand, or having a new computer lab, etc., we've got to have x% of our parents able to pay. As it is, the constant increases of tuition, only further push more parents into the have-nots.

I would be curious if anyone had insight regarding what percentage of parents at your average NJ Yeshiva can pay the full tuition.

tesyaa said...

Not sure that it's truly a religious necessity to send children to yeshiva. Chinuch is a religious necessity. There is more than one way to provide chinuch. It is certainly a cultural/social necessity, and for most kids it may be the best way to provide chinuch.

But what does "can't afford" mean? We couldn't afford yeshiva if both parents weren't working, so I work full time. It is definitely a burden on our family. I hate to think of a mother who's receiving tuition assistance having cleaning help, while I can't afford it because I'm paying full tuition.

Emotionally, this is something I really have to come to terms with because things aren't going to change any time soon.

Avi said...

Our school does the PTA group gift thing.

Do people borrow from gemachs to buy fancy sheitels and iPods? Really? Hasn't been my experience. True, even a modest lifestyle isn't sustainable without income, but it seems backwards to blame gemachs for creating the culture that discourages work.

I went back and forth on NNJKIDS. Is it destined to be a significant part of the solution? Almost certainly not - it's mostly moving money from one bucket (individual contributions) to another (communal contributions). However, I decided to support it anyway. It provides a single address for donations to all the local schools, rather than the one you happen to send your kid to. While I assume that most of the 800 families who have contributed are already giving money via tuition or direct donations, it opens the door to those without children in the schools to contribute as well. Sort of like the Jewish Federations, only with a focus on education.

What I'd really like to see is the actual spend per child at each of these schools. I have seen commenters here writing that if you pay full tuition you are paying for your child PLUS a percentage of someone else's child. I have also seen commenters here writing that full tuition does not cover the cost of educating your child, and fundraising makes up the difference. Which is it?

tesyaa said...

Avi asks: "I have seen commenters here writing that if you pay full tuition you are paying for your child PLUS a percentage of someone else's child. I have also seen commenters here writing that full tuition does not cover the cost of educating your child, and fundraising makes up the difference. Which is it?"

I believe that the full amount of tuition collected, in *aggregate*, doesn't cover the cost of educating all children in a particular school. Contributions make up the difference. However, dividing the total cost of education by the total number of students yields a number that is lower than the nominal (full) tuition.

It is very hard to prove this one way or another, without access to school financials.

Orthonomics said...

I would be curious if anyone had insight regarding what percentage of parents at your average NJ Yeshiva can pay the full tuition.

I've never seen an article on Day School or Yeshivot in which it states that any less than 1/3 of the student receive some sort of financial aid.

In more modern Orthodox schools, I'd venture to guess that anywhere between one-third to one-half of the student receive some sort of reduction from published tuition.

In more right wing Yeshiva schools, the number is somewhere between one-half and two-third with some schools reporting as high as seventy-five percent.

Avi--Regarding my comments on borrowing and an inflated lifestyle, I should have wrote in comparison to income.

You don't have to wear custom sheitels or have an IPod to have an inflated lifestyle and to borrow yourself into an inflated lifestyle.

Mishpacha, Jewish Worker, nor I are blaming gemachs for the culture of not working/late, late entrance into the workforce. But lending to those who can't pay back most certainly feeds into the cycle.

Orthonomics said...

Regarding average expenditures per student, I have also heard that tuition doesn't cover the cost per student and that full tuition is at a premium.

I imagine there are schools operating on each model. Doesn't change the fact that parents are hitting a wall. A friend of mine told me they are using up their savings this year to pay tuition. Next year? Well, I guess one year at a time.

tesyaa said...

It's clear to me that tuition committees could not possible process all the data that's submitted re expenses, vacations, debt, etc in the short time that is available for this task. (About a month; these people are volunteers, who shouldn't be expected to give up their day jobs). I have heard that basically they look at adjusted gross income and make tuition assistance decisions based on this one factor. If there are truly special circumstances, I guess it is possible to appeal. But to imagine that these allocations are truly "fair", well, it would take Shelomo Hamelech to fairly allocate tuition assistance.

Honestly Frum said...

A word on NNJ Kids. Although the current distribution may not have been much, it is a starting point. No one is saying that it is the silver bullet but at least this community is doing something and the conversation is starting about shifting the current funding model from parents to community. Perhaps once the entire community is involved in the process better funding and efficiency ideas will come about. But sitting around and doing nothing is not the answer. There are other things in the works with NNJ Kids other than simply the fund raising arm, but it is a good beginning.

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to wonder if the fairest way to deal scholarships is to have a simple grid which would dictate for family A with income B and number of kids of C, your expected contribution will be between the narrow range of X and Y (with exceptions granted for overriding circumstances such as illness, etc.)

If schools would publish this IN ADVANCE, no one could come and say my mortgage is too high so I can't pay tuition. This could allow people to plan accordingly. Otherwise you'll continue to have people who say their mortgage debt is too high so they can't pay tuition.

to Sephardilady: if 1/3 to 1/2 of parents are receiving scholarships, there's a major problem, as that 1/3 to 1/2 will eventually go to 1/2 to 2/3 as costs continue to rise.

Anonymous said...

Full disclosure: I live in Teaneck and know the people who started NNJKIDS very well. Some things that I think need clarification:

1) As I understand it, the 185k that was distributed was only the first allocation - there will be quarterly distributions so NNJKIDS should distribute a lot more than that going forward. No this won't solve the entire problem, but it's a good start.

2) The average tuition at Bergen County day schools ranges from approx 13k-15k.

3) Only 25-30% are on some form of tuition assistance, but many others get discounts if they are employed by the schools.

I agree wholeheartedly that the current model for funding Yeshiva day schools is unsustainable. We are caught in a vicious cycle where more and more people can't afford it which results in more and more requests for tuition assistance which results in higher and higher tuition. We should applaud NNJKIDS for attempting to do something. While it will take a long time (which we may not have) to change the mindset of the community, the ONLY way that there will be any Yeshivas in America 20-30 years from now is if they become financed by the communities themselves as are public schools. Everything else that gets discussed around the issue of day school affordability is noise. Yes, schools should cut costs. Yes, we should fight to try and get state/federal money. Yes, we should make sure that scholarship distributions are equitable. But in the long-run, these are band-aids and will only prolong the inevitable (and not by much). This is the single biggest issue facing the frum community and if we don't get off our rear ends and find a solution soon, the dropout rate from frumkeit will be off the charts in the coming years.

So we should applaud NNJKIDS for taking this first baby step and figure out how to leverage the idea to attract more communal funds towards Jewish education.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1:09: Doesn't community funding imply that there is enough funds in the community? Doesn't there first need to be a determination as to what the present and future needs and funding abilities of the community are. In other words are people earning enough to fund the shcools? If not, why not? Is it feasible to change that? Is the community willing to go to a purely socialist/communist model of funding? If so, will people still work the 60+ hour weeks and have the dual income families that are needed?

Anonymous said...

There exists money in the community that currently goes outside of the community. Is there enough? Hard to say. Will the schools also have to cut back - almost definitely.

So we all have enough money to pay our property taxes? Almost 70% goes to fund the public schools and if we don't pay it, then they take our house away. It's not enforceable, but it would be nice if people viewed paying for Jewish education as an obligation. Like I said, if we don't move closer to that model, good luck finding an Orthodox Shul in America in 50 years.

Anonymous said...

I think that there needs some perspective here. I will remind the group what was going on when NNJKIDS was launched. There were large groups of parents who were publicly expressing the desire for change in the actual school system delivery system. Charter schools and low cost school models were being discussed. As a reaction to those forces, the Bergen county rabinic leadership for really the first time woke up and said maybe we have a problem here. The system is unaffordable. So what was their big idea?

A bailout of the schools. One that makes the auto industry jealous; no change in leadership necessary! Can't afford the school tuition? Don't worry, we'll get others to pay for you. Sounds good right? No need to struggle with paying tuition anymore, we'll get others to pay it for you. There are only two problems: 1) the donations to date are not even close to making a dent. As has been pointed out above, we are talking about less than $200 per kid (elementary school only) annualized per year and a good part of that money was simply diverted from direct to school to "fund" donations. 2) why should we all pay for these schools who are the problem.

The schools have created products (costs) that many people can't afford. They mandate that some payers subsidize others by charging more than cost for tuition and beg for the difference. Change will come when schools start spending reasonably. But as long as communal bailouts and forced subsidization is tolerated, nothing will change. NNJKIDS is a negative to the tuition problem since the leadership uses it to say they are doing something about this problem. All they are doing is passing the buck (or passing the hat).

Anonymous said...

"Will the schools also have to cut back - almost definitely."

When do you think the schools will cut back? Have they cut their budgets 10-20%? Anyone want to take that bet? Has anyone's tuition gone down in 2009?

Eventually, hard questions will be asked and the schools will be exposed for the irresponsible, unsustainable spending binge they have been on for the past 10 years. To date, the responses to charges of overspending are responded to in educational terms so we shouldn't question their spending. Well there isn't anymore money, now what?

By the way, all the emphasis has been on elementary school. MO high schools in Northern NJ cost 22-25k. You think the struggling families with 14k are going to be ok with 25k per kid? The tsunami is coming...

Avi said...

Anonymous 1:09 -

I'm donating to NNJKIDS. However, I don't believe in the communal model for one simple reason: the community is already tapped out. Who are these mystery people in our community who don't have kids in the schools and aren't already contributing? Singles? Most have crushing student loan obligations and are just starting out in their careers. DINKs? Most of the ones I know are trying desperately to get pregnant and spending a fortune to do so. Seniors? They paid their tuitions already and don't have fully funded retirement. Rich seniors who take their families to hotels for Pesach? Yes, there are some of these, but the school fundraisers already have their phone numbers on speed-dial. NNJKIDS isn't going to get more out of them than the pros already do. Conservative/Reform/Unaffiliated? Good luck with that.

The reason public school funding works is because it's mandatory, there aren't as many kids per family in general, and the base of people without kids in the system can sometimes exceed the number of people with kids in the system.

NNJKIDS is wonderful for achdut (communal togetherness) - at least amongst the Orthodox, and it gives people who want to donate to education a way to do so without choosing a specific school/ideology. So I'm one of the 800 families participating. But I just don't see it having an impact - major or minor, today or tomorrow - on tuitions overall.

UAG said...

Achdut is a great thing that we should all strive for. We could have the same Achdut without the pretense of a silly "solution".

Real meaningful greater achdut could be achieved if we all admitted that the schools are not institutions that are affordable and changes need to be made. That would be a tough act, but with achdut and courage, it could be done.

Anonymous said...

Schools made sharp cuts last year. Many did not give teachers raises (anyone want to argue that teachers are overpaid?) Tuition did not go down because there was a tremendous increase in scholarship applications.

Orthonomics said...

Schools made sharp cuts last year. Many did not give teachers raises (anyone want to argue that teachers are overpaid?)

I hate this class warfare regarding teacher pay. So long as there are sufficient applicants for teaching positions, I think we can assume that they are being paid market rate, which would include intangibles.

I do believe that many schools did make cuts. Other schools I know have added staff.

Offwinger said...

Sadly, I think class warfare is inevitable here, even if we leave the teachers out of it.

Here is the reality:

If I am someone who can afford to pay $15K to $25K, I might *want* many of the fancier things that come along with expensive tuition and are commesurate with what non-Yeshivah private schools provide. Yes, there is waste and duplicative spending in the yeshivah world. Nonetheless, there is a lot of *stuff* going on in our schools, especially the more pricey MO ones, that many people would want.

I'm an alumnus of a NY-NJ metro MO school. While the school has always been strong in terms of courses offered, extra-curricular activities, and other projects students engage it, I am amazed at how much *more* is going on now than ever did before. The school has students able to engage in so many different kinds of things, ranging from academically oriented to sports to arts & culture and, of course, to chessed.

If anything, the greatest expanse since I graduated seems to be in the number of clubs and groups and projects that fall into the tikun olam range. These programs cost money to run, though, and they require staffing & administration.

Schools are not entirely unaware of the market. They do not pay teachers a lot of money if they can find teachers who will work for less. They offer the kind of education that they think parents want and are willing to pay for, especially when you're telling people that the cost is $15K just to get in the door at age 5. They offer the programs that will appeal to alumni, so people like me will read the solicitations and think, "Of course I want to give money to my old school! Look at all the impressive things they do!" (Note to school: You already received plenty of money from my family. We called it tuition.)

I read here about people suggesting that schools should scale back to become more affordable, and I can't see how that is going to work. The people who can afford to pay WANT more services, and if the school cuts back, they'll be happy to take their money elsewhere. The people who can't afford to pay are, for the most part, not even remotely *close* to being able to pay in full, so it's not like they can make schools more affordable to everyone by reducing from $15K to $12K or $25 K to $20 K.

The schools have massaged the growing disparity between the haves and have nots by trying to up fundraising and charge enough to subsidize some scholarships. But those solutions are not able to keep pace with the ever-increasing growth in school "experiences" demanded by the haves, and the ever-impossible ability by the have nots to keep up with costs.

I'm speaking in MO terms, but I suspect something similar is happening in right wing schools as well (though perhaps at a different cost basis or with different classes/activities being at issue).

As I've written elsewhere, we've devised a system that presumes everyone will be wealthy. I do think we need some solutions that recognize that this is not possible or sustainable. However, it's also going to be plenty challenging convincing some people that everything they structured their lives to be able to provide for their kids is no longer a communal necessity, or "worse," that they should provide their own kids with "less" to make the system more affordable for everyone else.

Mike S. said...

Off course tuition doesn't pay the full expenditures of a school.

They spend the money they take in, so if they get donations, they spend more than they take in in tuition. Depending on the school they will either be more generous with aid, with the staff or provide more extras. That isn't to say they couldn't provide the same education for less if they had to. The price of anything is set by what the market will bear, not by what it "should cost." (and according to whom should it cost that?) If people started sending their kids to public schools because of the cost, yeshivot would figure out how to run a little more efficiently. But I don't see there is a lot of room for cuts, at least the schools I know. Sure, there are things the school spends money on that I'd rather they didn't. But when I talk with other parents, many think those are necessities, while they would cut things I think are important. Naturally, the school has to balance things out among its parent base. Every parent I know has things they would cut and things they would add. They probably could find a few % in efficiencies, but the only thing I can see that would save substantial amounts of money is to increase the class size, cutting the faculty in proportion. In my kid's school that would mean going from 4 sections of about 15 per class to 3 of 20. It is doable, but would impact the education. I am sure many parents would prefer that. Others, myself included, would not. I'd go along, knowing how much stress tuition can be, but if the school can keep going this way, I'd prefer it.

tesyaa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
UAG said...

This is not class warfare at all. Class warfare is between classes fighting over government programs or taxes. Discussion over teacher compensation is between clients and their service providers. The tuition payers are the clients and the teachers (schools) are the service providers. If the clients think the service provider (schools / teachers) are overpaid, they will not continue to pay the same rate or move their business elsewhere. It is especially a hot topic since the schools are basically charities who have asked the community to subsidize further their model with more donations. If you think they are overpaid, you won't give donations for the most part.

"Many did not get teachers raises". News blast, neither did most people and many people are making less than they made in the past. I think teachers with their full compensation packages (tuition breaks, tax breaks) and months of work and pay get a very good salary. I am not sure that they are overpaid, but given their hours / days, you want to argue that the MO orthodox school teachers are underpaid?

Teachers are compensated (total package) very adequately and for those in teaching without other marketable skills, have a far above market wage rate. Keep in mind, as tuition has risen the past 10 years more than twice the rates of inflation, their tuition benefits have automatically gone up too.

tesyaa said...

Since the discussion of teacher pay is taking place, I will just list some of the "intangibles" that teachers often don't think of when they consider their pay:

1) Yom tov and erev yom tov off
2) Ability to work on their children's schedules - reducing childcare costs
3) Summers off, with the ability to take paying camp jobs or spend time with their children
4) religious coworkers who respect their beliefs
5) possibility of tuition reduction for their own children

Or, as a commenter on another blog asked, do you have 15 paid days off and have to use 12 of them for yom tov? Teachers, before you complain, please remember why you became a yeshiva teacher instead of choosing another job! How manageable would your life be if you had to work 52 weeks with 15 days off and 9 American holidays?

Avi said...

Offwinger wrote: "The people who can't afford to pay are, for the most part, not even remotely *close* to being able to pay in full, so it's not like they can make schools more affordable to everyone by reducing from $15K to $12K or $25 K to $20 K."

This is another assumption I'd love tested with actual data. I have no doubt that many parents can't come close to paying today's tuitions, and anything more than, say, $5K per child is out of reach. However, I personally know many people struggling, taking on second/third jobs, or taking on debt who would be at the line if tuition had held steady instead of rising at double digit rates over the past decade. If you've got four kids, and tuition could drop by $2,500 per child, that would equal $15,000 in yearly pre-tax income you wouldn't need. Yes, you'd still need significant family income, but in my anecdotal experience, that extra $15K has pushed a lot of people over the edge.

Orthonomics said...

I wouldn't complain about a $500 reduction or a $1,000 reduction. It would make things more affordable. Ultimately, I wish that we could have tuition like the Christian school around the corner that runs between $4000-$6000 depending on grade. No scholarships indicated on the website, nor any major fundraisers. I imagine the building is long paid for. And I believe there is one principal and one secretary.

JLan said...

A few notes:

1) We've gotten far away from the "tips" issue this far down the thread, but I just wanted to comment that the PTA for the school I'm at gives each teacher $100. Even with a very low teacher:student ratio, it still comes out to under $25/child.

2) We're also (just barely) under 1/3 of families getting assistance.

3) "Or, as a commenter on another blog asked, do you have 15 paid days off and have to use 12 of them for yom tov?"

As a note, 2010 and 2011 are some of the worst years for this (12 days of Y"T). Even 2008, when the chagim fell out Tuesday/Wednesday in the fall, was better, since 3 days of Y"T in the spring fell out on the weekends. If anything, this should be further used as an example of how great teacher benefits are: the next time that the fall chagim are on the weekend is 2020.

Honestly Frum said...

SL, on your point on Catholic school overhead, I think our Yeshivos are way too top heavy. You have a dean, an English principal, a hebrew principal in some schools someone in charge of the girls someone in charge of the boys, mashgichim, people in charge of lower schools and preschools and many of these people have their own secretaries. And given that these people are considered "administrators" their salaries are most likely much higher than the average teacher. I believe that "top" staff reductions and consolidations in some of these jobs (like combining the job of hebrew and english principal or getting rid of the overseeing dean) could result in a SIGNIFICANT savings to the schools.

UAG said...

There are so many KNOWN reasons to explain tuition increases. Top heavy, increased extras, campuses, scholarships, class size, etc. They are all well know. The fact is the schools have chosen this tuition price by spending the current amount. They could change it if they want to but chose to spend this amount and beg for the difference after charging the most they can for tuition.

And that is exactly one of the reasons why NNJKIDS is a mistake. When the schools are faced with tough choices or taking bailout money (with no strings attached), we are encouraging the same entities to pretty much continue doing what they have been doing.

Last year, for the first time, the Northern NJ schools became too embarassed to increase tuitions like they have in past 15 years (some were flat and some had minimal increases). The past years of passing on continuing tuition increases had stopped due to economic reality. The customers had spoken. If the customers (tuition payers) start speaking more, maybe signinficant changes will happen. But raising more money for a bailout will not change anything.

Orthonomics said...

Honestly Frum,
Christian school, not Catholic.
Not only does the school not have the massive overhead, but they provide services our schools don't provide. This school has a fleet of busses. Additionally, when I went to their website, I noted that some of the teachers had been with the school for many, many years.

Miami Al said...

The biggest difference between the Christian Schools and the Orthodox Jewish Schools are:
1. Scholarships -- The Christian Schools will raise money for a scholarship fund and use that to help people, but there is no entitlement to pay what you can.
2. Job Creation -- The Jewish schools seem to think that they exist to create jobs, the Christian schools do not.

From the sample of one day school whose budget I got to see in great detail...

The school collects about 50% of the tuition billed. Normal private schools are at 100% because they charge in advanced, not monthly. So that knocks "tuition" from 15k -> 7.5k

The "make shift work" on this school of 600 included several people, probably 300k of salaries of people that were relatively irrelevant but paid to teach a single class because they ran a Shul in the area, whatever. That's $500/student. We're at 7k.

This 600 person school has a Dean, 4 principals (high school and lower, Jewish/Secular). This "overhead" of unnecessary administration was over $600k for the administrators (600 students = single principal, maybe an assistant), plus another 300k for their support staff (more than 1 secretary per principal). That's 1500/student, low and behold, I'm at $5500/student/year.

While I'm sure I could find another $300k in waste (paying Rabbi's like they have a PhD and having them teach elementary school at $70k-$80k), any school is going to have SOME waste, and assuming that the Christian school is perfect is unfair, hence my focusing on the total nonsense.

So we're at a $500 - $1500 premium... some of that is "dual curriculum" and related costs... But if you ditched the dual-teacher elementary school, etc., and if the teach can't teach both, pair two grades and swap teacher mid-day.

But $4k-$5k for a religious private school education? 100% hittable. If you're willing to require a $500 Chinuch contribution, you could even price in the staff teaching a Free Talmud Torah program for the area kids that can't afford your school.

nancy said...

This made an interesting read. It was thought-provoking.
Keep posting!!

This is Nancy from Israeli Uncensored News

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