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Monday, March 08, 2010

Public Service Announcement: Florida Jewish Cooperative School New Location

Public Service Announcement from the Jewish Cooperative School (Florida) follows. Also, check out their new website with information on just how this cooperative operates!

To Orthonomics,

I wanted to update you on our progress of securing a location for Kindergarten and First Grade for next year. Below is our email we sent out to our coop families. Also, I have attached a chart that compares 2010/2011 tuition rates at 2 local day schools. These 2 schools are actually the lowest priced of the 5 local Orthodox day schools in the South Florida area.

Dear All,

Adar truly proved to be a joyous month for the Jewish Cooperative School. We are thrilled to report that we have secured a phenomenal location that has amenities galore - all conveniently located within NMB. Our location provides a state of the art computer lab with over 15 computers, a soccer field, basketball court, huge playground with amazing climbing equipment, auditorium with stage, enclosed outdoor atrium with picnic tables and room for our children to grow a vegetable garden, full access to a splash and play playground with certified lifeguards for those unbearably hot Florida school days, as well as the opportunity for co-op families to arrange discounted swimming lessons with certified swim instructors after school. To further safeguard our children, the classrooms have surveillance cameras and the City of NMB police department overlooks the playground. Easy drop-off and pick-up as well! We will be located in the North Miami Beach Ronald A. Silver Youth Enrichment Services Center: 17051 NE 19th Avenue. And the icing on the cake is that tuition is substantially less than the recently announced 2010-2011 tuition prices at the local day schools.

Please help spread the word to interested Kindergarten and First Grade families. Space is limited to only 10 children per class.

For more information, please visit our website, send us an email at or feel free to call us at 786-541-8527.

[My apologies for my inability to easily put the following information back into the chart it came on] HOW DOES JEWISH COOPERATIVE SCHOOL COMPARE TO THE LOCAL

2010/2011 Published Rates

Tuition Kindergarten
$ 9,700.00
$ 8,800.00

Tuition First Grade

Registration Fee
$ 500.00
$ 650.00
$750.00 applied towards the last month of tuition.

Give/Get/Scholarship Fund
$ 1,000.00
$ 1,200.00

Building Fee
$ 650.00

Insurance/Security Fee
$ 350.00
$ 250.00

Book Fee
$ 175.00




Lion of Zion said...

well add on $600/year (per student or family) for family service. but it's still a bargain. and the class is capped at 10 kids?! holy canoly. how do they do it? did you ever post about this?

Orthonomics said...

LOZ- See the first Public Service Annoucment here:

This is most interesting and the contact is more than happy to take calls from parents wishing to jump on the co-op bandwagon. They have plenty of expertise to offer to interested parents.

Lion of Zion said...

i just checked out that post. as far as i can tell from it, the only real savings is in reduced adminstration. so is that the really that cause of bloated tuition? or is there something else with this model i'm missing? (i don't think the parent involvement mentioned in the older post, e.g., with the garden, really results in that much savings)

Shoshana Z. said...



Forgive my ignorance... but is this considered a bargain?

Miami Al said...

LoZ, do the math...

If you take a Day School with say, 500 students K-12 (honestly, nursery doesn't really benefit from shared services with the school, and can be provided MUCH cheaper by third parties), and take a Dean that makes 150k, add benefits, fringe., etc., and their secretary, and the Dean's office is 250k. If each principal makes $100k, average, and has a secretary, you're at $150k/principal. Figure someone does Finance/Administration, you're at another $100k there (whereas the coop probably has a parent doing book keeping)... Reception and another clerical working in the office, and you're at $1M/year in administrative costs.

Dean's Office: $250k
Prinicpals: $600k
Back Office: $150k

That's $1M in administrative costs.

If the school collects 50% of the "rack rate" of tuition, then that means that each "full payer" pays double this cost, since only 50% of the total tuition is collected (after scholarships and non-payment).

$1M in administration across 500 students is $2000/student. Assuming 50% collection rate, then $1M in administration costs adds $4000/student/tuition rate.

Add $4000 to $7500 and you're at $11,500, "only" $2150 below the other schools. Once you factor in general irresponsible behavior, sweetheart contracts to people in the community, and whatever other nonsense you have, you can easily find another $500,000 in waste at the schools... $500,000 adds the other $2000 to tuition...

Yes, the oversized administration adds at least $3000/student in tuition costs, seeing as how the student:administrator ratio is normally 100:1...

Anonymous said...

Anyone want to bet that this wonderful cooperative school model will NEVER happen in BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

Lion of Zion said...


if you don't see this as a bargain than either
a) you're not being realistic about how much we can really lower tuition (unless we adopt the chasidish cheder model)
b) you're richer than you think


does this school get any type of outside funding, either public or private?
what happens if a family can't pay a bill?

Dave said...

At ten students per class, that's $75k per classroom.

That has to support the cost of facilities, supplies, the teacher's salary (plus benefits, payroll taxes, and payroll costs) -- I'm actually surprised with that student/teacher ratio they got the price that low.

Mike S. said...

There is no way you can run a school and pay a teacher a decent wage with a maximum total income of $75,000 per classroom. Either they are getting additional money or they are stiffing the teachers.

Even with FL real estate depressed you will be paying $15K per classroom for market rents. (Assuming nothing but classrooms a hall and bathrooms--if there is a library, a playground or an office it will be more.) I also assumed there is someone else paying the full rent for the Summer--otherwise add 20%. You need insurance and utilities, at least another $5K per class room. Figure $500/kid for supplies and you are left with (assuming no secretary or adminstrators at all) $55K per classroom, which will support a salary of around $30K with benefits. If you added in some capital charge for renting or buying desks and chairs and there is even less.

I think I lowballed all the other costs and you either stiff the teachers or have other money coming in. Or you have a 1 time subsidy on the rent and tuition will be a lot higher next year.

ProfK said...

The idea sounds wonderful but the numbers don't precisely compute for me. As Dave said, income is at $75,000 per class plus the additional $600 in family responsibility of give hours or the money. Since both Judaic studies and secular studies are offered I'll have to assume that one teacher is handling both subjects, otherwise the $75K doesn't cover two teacher's salaries plus benefits,payroll taxes, insurance costs, school supplies and rental of the facility along with utilities. Food is not mentioned on the coop's website. If lunch and snacks are being provided by the school that's an additional expense.

What will happen with expenses when the school reaches the point of more grades with the inevitable addition of more teaching staff in the middle and upper school grades? At some point you are not going to have one teacher who will be teaching all Judaic studies material as well as math, science, computers, history, English, art, music etc.

I'll presume for now, with only two grades, that every parent is paying full tuition. What will happen when more classes are added? Given the price, it doesn't seem like there is much financial room or any room for any parents who might need reduced tuition because of multiple children in the school. And what will happen if facilities rent/operating costs go up, as they inevitably do?

I agree with the poster who said the savings seems to be all with administrative costs for now, which is definitely a savings, but for how long will it remain a savings?

I'd say that anyone wanting to jump on this bandwagon should wait until a full school K-8 is up and running and see how the finances play out.

Offwinger said...

I think those suggesting that the numbers don't add up or saying "What happens when it turns into a K-8 school?" or suggesting that people watch and wait are missing something very significant here:


It is a co-op. If it ONLY works for families with children in a handful of grades, so what?

If it ONLY works for children ages K-4, so what?

If it ONLY works for families that ALL pay 100% of the costs via tuition, so what?

If it ONLY works for 50 children at a time (or some other cap), so what?

Prof K's comment about "waiting to jump on the bandwagon" says it all about how traditional thinking is leading to unnecessary criticism. Co-ops are not bandwagons. They are not full-service traditional schools where you can just write a check and send your child and expect everyone else to do everything. Participating in a co-op means taking an active role in your child's education, devoting your time to the endeavor, and maintaining a manageable ratio of familes/parents to total number of students. There is no bandwagon to wait for.

These families are trying something different, and even if it only works for 2 years or 4 years or some other 'shorter' period of time that isn't a full K-8 term before the children transition to other educational venues, SO WHAT? These families will have saved themselves thousands of dollars in the process.

ProfK said...


Coop schooling is often touted as a "complete" substitute for the tradtional day school/yeshiva educational model. The website for the Florida school makes no mention whatsoever that it will be a limited school in any of the ways you delineate in your comment.

No, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being an alternative for educating some children for some of the grades. Saving up money in the beginning years to help pay for the later years is a good idea. But be up front about what is going to be offered, for how long and to whom. Make it clear that this model may not/will not work for everyone across all of elementary school.

This is an alternative for only some and that should be made crystal clear BEFORE the hype goes up. If there is a disclaimer let it go up front, not after the presentation where such a disclaimer usually gets buried in the fine print.

Offwinger said...

Prof K,

I disagree. This is not a "fine print" issue. It goes to the fundamental understanding of what a co-op IS.

I understand that the website is trying to "hype" or tout the full service nature of the EDUCATIONAL program for the grades involved. No one is saying "This is a traditional school" or "This will morph into a traditional school." I don't think the co-op school families know what will happen in 3 years, and I don't see any evidence of promises being made to others. The website clearly indicates that the school is limited to 10 children in 2 grades. It also includes a section on parental involvement. How does that mislead anyone?

To the extent that the "hype" is capturing people who do not know what a co-op is and might be mislead simply by the use of the word "school" (because they can only conceive of traditional style schools), this is something that will easily be resolved when an interested parent contacts the co-op for more information.

You're using a double standard here about putting the disclaimer first, THEN building the "hype." Traditional yeshivahs and day schools do not build websites explaining which students they do not serve at the outset, nor should they be expected to.

ProfK said...


You're using a double standard here about putting the disclaimer first, THEN building the "hype." Traditional yeshivahs and day schools do not build websites explaining which students they do not serve at the outset, nor should they be expected to.

Sorry, but that is one of the complaints that many parents have about the traditional schools--they don't tell you who they are not for and who they are for. And yes, they should be expected to do that. Don't commit the sin of omission by leading parents to believe that you are all inclusive when you aren't.

Kosher restaurants all advertise that they are milchig, fleishig or pareve and what their specialty is. Customers don't waste their time going to a restaurant that serves only fleishig Chinese food when what they want/need is milchig Italian food. That type of "customer service" should be emulated by yeshivas as well. Don't have me come down to your school and only then find out that you don't offer the "food" I need or that you won't service me because I have special dietary requests.

Lion of Zion said...


i too am skeptical about how they can pull this off for 7.5k, esp. if additional grades are added.

but i think your fine print comment wasn't warranted. the website is very upfront about the scope and mission of the school.

and on the other hand, when was the last time a traditional school included any fine print. did i knowin advance that my tuition was going to go up 35% this year (actually i think it's 44% on the base tuition!)? i'm not going to get into all the "fine print" that none of our schools provide us with because it will take us far afield.

but back to the point about adding grades, etc.
so maybe this only works for pre-school and a few elementarey school grades. sounds worthy to me.
part of the problem with addressing tuition is that people expect grand changes overnight. maybe this is the humble step in the right direction some of us need.

as far your comment regarding parents who can't pay the tuition:
a) i would hope that in schools where standard tuition is 15k there is a minumum tuition of at least 7.5k (barring very extenuating circumstances)
b) besides, the small nature of the co-ops makes them perfect for parents who are paying (over)paying full tuition to begin with.

the problem with restricting the co-op to full-tuition families only is practical alone. if each family pays only the actual cost, what happens if mid-year a family is unable to pay. perhaps payment is expected in full in advance to prevent this from happening?

Lion of Zion said...


i just read you last comment.
i really think you are misrepresenting the way the co-op is ostensibly misrepresnting itself.
i never heard of co-ops before, but i got a pretty clear idea from the website of what's involved.
and are parents being misead if the website omits some info? i would hope that the decision to switch schooling options isn't a caprcious one and that parents would exercise due diligence before making the switch.

Anonymous said...

ProfK: Any need for more teachers in the higher grades will be offset by larger class size. Even if the size goes from 10 to 20 students, that is still a small class.

To the extent your concern is about children whose families can't pay and the community's interest in providing a day school education for all, I doubt this model is designed to fund scholarships. However that is not a reason for rejecting it. It's a reason to support this model since it makes more sense for the community to pay $7500 to send a kid from a poor family to this school than to spend $13,00 or more to send that student to a more traditional school. Scholarships should be funded through tzedaka, not increasing the tuition for other parents.

ProfK said...


What is THE key word when parents who send their children to our traditional schools complain? It is only partially the word tuition. What parents want and kvetch about everywhere online and in the real word is TRANSPARENCY. They want to know EXACTLY where their money is going and what things cost. They want to know school policy up front and in the open. They are tired of the hidden and the unknown and the surprises, such as your tuition raise that you mention.

I did not say that the coop school outright misrepresents itself. I will say that it did not go far enough in giving information and providing TRANSPARENCY. Clearly the parents in the coop school had had it with the tradtional schooling available. They came up with a different model. They need to go that one step further, however, and become more transparent, or they are replicating one of the problems they are trying to get away from.

Anonymous said...

ProfK: I don't understand your criticism of the school re: disclosures. It clearly states that it has a kindergarten and a first grade. Why does it need to say that it doesn't have 2-12 when anyone who can read can clearly understand that it only has two grade levels. To use your example does a restaurant that says it is milchig also have to say "by the way we dont serve meat?"
I don't see how they can make predictions or representations about the future one way or another. I'm sure that the parents who send their kids there will understand that there is some uncertainty about the future and they may very well have to move their children after 1st or second grade.

Offwinger said...

Prof K,

The website specifically SAYS it is for children in two specific grades and that they are limited to 10 children per grade level and that parents must be involved in very specific ways.

This is NOT a restaurant who does not tell you if they are kosher or dairy or meat. They are telling you, "We are a kosher meat Chinese restaurant that is only open on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, but you have to help bus your own table."

How on earth is it misleading if you show up on a Wednesday and find out they are closed? How on earth is this misleading if you find that they don't have mu shu beef, but they do have 8 other beef dishes? Or if you have to bus your own table when you come?

Beyond that, not everything needs to be on the website. You can email or call and find out more information. Why would anyone think that any schooling option is meant for everyone and 'show up' without doing more homework? I don't live in Florida! Oh no, they didn't mention that busing isn't available up and down the east coast!

The fact that some people might tout co-op schooling as a "complete" solution or alternative imposes zero obligation on THIS co-op or THIS school to tell you everything about how they are not something else. They give you enough details to get a sense if it might be right for you and find out more.

Mike S. said...

Offwinger: My comments are that the numbers don't seem to add up as the school is for 2 grades. In fact, having looked more at the site at the description of the facilities and the computer lab, it adds up even less. These both take up space and const money for equipment. Either they have someone donating a substantial amount of money, which is fine, or they are taking advantage of a landlord who is forgiving the first N months of rent, in which case tuition will rise next year when they start having to pay the full year's rent, or they are offering the teachers very low compensation, which I guess is OK if they find good teachers who are willing to stay for that in exchange for small classes and what I imagine will be a good environment.

Anonymous said...

75k per classroom is quite reasonable especially with only 10 kids per grade.

$45K for salaries

15k for rent

maybe 4k for insurance

another 5k for supplies

With any donations or outside funding, this becomes very reasonable, especially with parent involvement.

I am hopeful that it works.

Yashar Koach for thinking outside of the box!

Lion of Zion said...


"What parents want and kvetch about everywhere online and in the real word is TRANSPARENCY. They want to know EXACTLY where their money is going and what things cost."

parents aren't ultimately interested in transparency for it's own sake. they want transparency as a means for finding ways to make changes. having a publicized independently audited line budget doesn't mean anything if parents have no input in the decision making process. how does it help to know that the cook's 5 kids are getting reduced tuition, that the school overpaid for a new computer lab or that the girls' varsity miniature golf team travels on luxury coach buses?

so the benefit of a co-op school as far as transparency goes? the small number of parents makes it more likely that transparency can be taken to the next level because:

a) the school is parent run and by definition they are vested with the decision making powers
b) the small number of parents makes point A logistically practical
c) the small number of parents means they can agree even on the minutiae of what goes on in the school (one of the problems with transparency in a large school is that everyone has their own preferences what to cut and what to spend on. easier for 10 parents to agree on whether drama or extra-curricular phys ed is more important than for 500 parents to agree)

Conservative SciFi said...

Did anyone actually read the website?

It says they will be located in a "Youth Enrichment Center". If you go to that center's website, it is clear that the center provides afterschool care, a FREE computer lab for local residents, sports classes, and a playground.

The website expressly says that the parents will administer the school, and clearly parents will be serving as subs when the teachers are sick.

If the school is renting two classrooms during the day, when the city owned center is not otherwise using them, it is quite possible that the room rental is very reasonable.

I think this model could work well until third or fourth grade, when a teacher with expertise in math might be required. But if a couple of accountant or bookkeeper parents would be able to teach math, the program might even be fine until seventh grade.

One of the Co-op Parents said...

Yes the budget is $75,000. This will cover a respectable teacher salary, insurance, supplies (we had inherited some tables, cabinets, and chairs from a now-defunct school and the location provides some tables and chairs as well), and rent.
We have pounded the pavement to find a location that meets our budget. The City of NMB is not only willing to charge us just for the weeks that we use (yes, that’s right we are not paying for Sukkot break, Winter break, or Pesach break – and this was their proposal) and we don’t have to pay until school starts either (once again - NMB's proposal). We were trying to work with the local synagogues but either due to politics, zoning and ordinance issues, or space constraints, were not successful. There was one synagogue that was quite a distance away that was more than exceptionally generous with rental price and space usage and support, however our coop families preferred to keep the school local. This was a bit of a trade-off with price, but the amenities we have and the turn-key availability of this site have made this our first choice. Further, the City of NMB has been more than gracious, generous, and welcoming. The site is really beautiful and provides more amenities than my other kids receive at the other local yeshivas for a price much greater and with at least double the amount of kids. Obviously there are pros and cons for the teachers. We will not be providing benefits (other than being on a Jewish schedule – and getting paid for days off - which – as any person working in the secular world knows is an extremely amazing benefit). But there are other benefits as well that a teacher would never receive in a traditional day school – class size limited to 10 and an active and involved parent body that is supportive and a true partner. Right now, our goal is to grow through 5th grade. That’s it. It’s manageable and we like the other local options for middle school and high school. Most importantly, this was never only about the money but it was a big motivator for us. And we don’t believe in placing our burden of our childrens’ educational expense on anyone else. Because that is exactly what happens in the current system. We did look at Ben Gamla (the enticement of having over $35,000 freed up was like the biggest, heaviest dark cloud being lifted from our shoulders) and it is wonderful that there are options for different families but for our family a solid, unwavering Torah education is non-negotiable. At the end of the day, our family is saving thousands of dollars that really would have been spent in a different school with an education we would not have been happy with.

One of the Co-op Parents said...

Part 2

We are vested in this – and my daughter (for whom we did a mini-coop for pre-K) has unquestionably received the most well-rounded, exciting, stimulating education than any of my other kids at her age. The love that these kids have for each other, for their teachers, and themselves can bring a parent to tears - frequently. She loves to learn. She has an amazing sense of self and she is exactly the type of child that would have been lost in a class of 20. She is excited to go to school. She is in the most beautiful Torah environment imaginable because we, as parents, wanted that for our kids and created it. Are there obstacles and challenges ahead? Absolutely. This is a work in progress and is dependent upon having active, motivated and involved parents who want something better for their families. We have applied for a grant and are in the process of trying to become a "Step-Up For Students" f/k/a Florida Pride recipient school for those families that qualify for the scholarship. We emphasize to the families their accountability for payment - but I guess life happens. At the end of the day there has to be accountability - we believe in this so strongly that we are prepared to "have the buck stop here" so to speak. At any school that I am involved in - you better believe that my children's teachers will be paid, on time and NO ONE will be re-negotiating their contract in the middle of the year.

As far as the $75,000 per year per class budget...this is accurate. The numbers work out. Complete transparency is an appreciated factor. If and when we receive any grants and/or donations, everyone will see a reduction in tuition costs.

Any Questions?

Lion of Zion said...


who took care of the headaches of finding the space, negotiations, etc.? do the families have only one spouse working or with flexible work schedules? how did you know what you were doing not to get ripped off? etc.?

are you eligible for any government assitance?

Anonymous said...

We are all working families but were able to research locations while we had free time and follow up during business hours. We have various backgrounds and therefore are able to use our areas of expertise to try and avoid as many pitfalls as possible. This is certainly a work in progress - but its for our kids so we are committed to seeing it through.

We are eligible for a families who qualify to apply a state grant towards their tuition.

Anonymous said...

COOP Parent: How do you get teachers who will work without benefits? How experienced are they? Are they certified? Do they have masters? or is that not deemed necessary for kindergarten and first grade?
Will there be any other adults on staff besides the teachers each responsible for 10 children to handle situations where the teacher has to step out of the room or attend to a single child (i.e. kindergartner wets his pants and teacher has to take him to the bathroom to clean up and change, firstgrader falls and gets nose bleed in the playground, etc. -- these types of things happen all the time with 5 and 6 year olds).

Miami Al said...

Anon 3:59,

In my public elementary school, the Kindergarten teacher didn't have an assistant except parent volunteers during art projects, and had way more than 10 students. The classroom had an adjoining door to the next room, and if the teacher had to step out (go to the bathroom, deal with a student with an accident, etc) then went to the door, the other teacher stood between the rooms and "watched" everyone, and you quickly and professional dealt with the matter.

In other schools, public, private, or parochial, teachers don't take breaks the way they do in Jewish Day Schools.

A unique thing about Florida, we have a relatively high unemployment rate, fierce competition for teaching positions in the school system, a wealth of people that are "full time substitutes" in the system, and retired teachers.

I'm not involved in the Co-op, but I wouldn't be shocked if the Co-op could find two retired teachers whose savings were recently decimated that were interested in picking up a teaching job w/o benefits, since Medicare provides benefits.

They are looking for two teachers, doesn't matter if 99.9% of teachers wouldn't be interested, they only need 2 to say yes.

Mike S. said...

That's great if it works out. I do not consider $45K per classroom for teacher compensation reasonable though. That corresponds to something like $27K in salary assuming you are paying the required taxes and some benefits. If you can find good teachers willing to work for that, good for you.

Miami Al said...

Mike S.,

Can you explain your math to me? $45000 is the "net payment." The "school" has to pay approximate $650 into the Florida unemployment insurance pool, and a 7.65% FICA payment. That means that the "gross" salary is $41,198.33 which grosses up to $45k.

$41,200 (or $41,000 if we assume $400/year to pay the accountant to do the quarterly/annual returns) for a K/1st grade teacher doesn't sound horrendous in Florida. We're recruiting some entry business positions, and I'm finding people with Masters degrees looking for less than that.

The job is without benefits, that was stated... I want to know where the other $14,000 you have in there goes?

Normally salaries are quoted pre-tax, not the after tax amount.

Anonymous said...

41,000 for a teacher without benefits strikes me as a low if you want someone with the appropriate degrees and experience, but that is not a bad salary for someone with no experience and no masters, considering this is FL and not NJ or NY or CT and the teacher will have only 10 students, not 25. I'm also guessing the school year might not be a full 180 days. However, as that newbie becomes experienced and more senior, that price is going to go up.

BTW - who is going to develop the curricula, select text books, etc. for this school? Even at the kindergarten and first grade level, there are a plethora of reading, math and other programs and methods to chose from. Will the teachers be doing that or the parents, or a committee? Who will be reviewing the lesson plans and deciding what testing will be used?

Mike S. said...

Miami: When I wrote that, I didn't see that it was without benefits.

On the other hand, I know in my business I hire people either on staff or as resident subcontractors, generally with minimal benefits. The latter generally get a higher salary, so that the total compensation package is about the same. For my employer benefits and taxes generally run 40-50% of the cash salary.

I don't know what the job market in FL is like, but when I hire an engineer with a fresh BS the compensation package is pushing $85-90K including benefits. If I hire an English major as a secretary I am looking at $60K total compensation.

Don't get me wrong. I am all in favor of experimenting with ways to provide a quality Jewish education for less. This school seems to have a good deal from the city on the rent, and if they have found good teachers for the price, I wish them all the success. I don't think, however, as some seemed to imply that any school charging more than $75K for a classroom is ripping people off. I'd expect that it takes something more like $125-150K, assuming 1 teacher (or 2 half-time teachers) with a $50K cash salary plus benefits, no aide, and pretty tight controls on overhead and administration.

Offwinger said...

Mike S,

Your English major hired as secretary typically works 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, with 10 to 15 days of vacation per year.

The teacher in K or 1st grade does not work the same hours or the same number of days per year.

There are qualified people who do not want to work a full work-day full year-round (perhaps they have children & would like to be on the same schedule) but could use $40-45K in take-home pay.

Miami Al said...

Mike S.,

Salaries are MUCH lower down here, very different job market. OTOH, we have zero income tax. I've made a payroll in Florida, I've made a payroll up north, and the numbers are lower here.

Benefits are much lower here.

Secretaries make $22k - $26k, we have a recent engineering graduate with a BS making 30k base, and thrilled to have a job after delivering pizzas and subs for 6 months.

We're much more feudal, like the rest of South America, then like you guys are back in the United States. :) But the wealthy make a TON of money, and everyone else looks for scraps.

That said, a 2 bedroom apartment, decent sized for two roommates, runs between 800 and 1600, depending on the neighborhood.

Recent graduates have salary expectations of 30k-40k... it's a LOT lower than the Boston-NYC-DC corridor. Cost of living is a lot lower, not as much lower as pre-boom, but lower.

Mike S. said...

Sure. Although my secretary doesn't have to grader papers or prepare the next day's lesson after hours either. She can leave her work behind at the end of the day. My guess is that the teacher probably works about 35 hours a week, for 40 weeks or so. Say 1400 hours a year. My secretary works 40 hours a week for 46-47 weeks a year (3 weeks vacation, 11 paid holidays, paid sick time if needed) say 1850 hours our about 1/3 more. But the teacher is fully on for almost all those hours, with a bunch of small kids to pay attention to. My secretary's workload is more variable; she works very hard some weeks, but other weeks she spends a fair amount of time surfing the web because the only work to do is wait for the phone to ring. She can also choose when to take her vacation, unlike the teacher who must go when school is out (and travel is therefore more expensive)

Sure, some people will want the job for the hours. My wife has spent a career at a teaching college getting paid less than she could otherwise, in part because the hours were flexible enough to let her be home to pick up the kids mist days. And if the school can find enough good teachers who will do so, I wish them well. But I wouldn't assume that every school can do that, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of these teachers are lured to other schools for better pay. My kids' schools pay better than this co-op and still lose good teachers to better paying schools (both Jewish and otherwise) with some regularity. At some point each school has to decide how much of that kind of turnover they want to live with.

And there is no way any school in my area can get the deal this school seems to have gotten from N. Miami Beach on the space.

Miami Al said...

Mike S.,

I think you are projecting a LOT based upon a different job market. Your pay package for secretary is roughly double the pay package for a secretary in the South Florida area.

I was pretty certain that this Salary seemed reasonable for a K/1 teacher, either early career, or a retiree looking for a low-stress pleasant environment, and you have compared the salary to salaries for completely different career tracks in a different part of the country.

Fortunately, we don't have to speculate, Miami Dade County (schools are county based here) publishes it's pay scale, and here is the 2009-2010 Teacher Salary Schedule.

Assuming no Masters degree, because the co-op is unlikely to place a Premium on it, the Step 1 Salary for teacher is $38,500, and you don't clip the $41,200 I backed their salary into until Step 8. With a Masters degree, you would come out ahead in the public schools, albeit not by much.

That's not to say that this is a terrific pay package, but it's pretty reasonable for the job.

The fact is, this is a competitive salary for a small private school to be paying, for someone that would prefer the work environment (or schedule) of this Co-op school to the benefits from working in the public school system.

Please note, the TOP level of pay, Step 22 w/ Ph.D. makes $75,425, less than you are paying entry level engineers.

It's not a passing judgment on the job compared to your secretary, it's stating what the actual market it for entry level liberal arts majors turned teachers in the Miami Dade job market.

Your $60k secretary would be looking for $30k jobs in Miami, because that is the job market in South Florida in the Great Recession.

Lion of Zion said...


"we don't have to speculate, Miami Dade County (schools are county based here) publishes it's pay scale"

getting off topic here, but miami date is not unique. i thought that pay scales for civil servants, especially unionized ones (as our local public school teachers are), are generally a matter of public record. my wife happens to work for the board of ed. anyone who know how many years she's working and her title can know down to the penny her salary and other benefits. so i don't understand why people feel the yeshiva teachers' pay scale should be a state secret.

Anonymous said...

LoZ: like days off for yom tov, and early Fridays, not having your salary published is one of the intangible benefits of teaching in a yeshiva.

Anonymous said...

Tessya: Most public school teachers are out by 3:00 on fridays, can use their personal and sick leave days for yom tov, (many schools are closed on yom kippur and passover usually coincides with spring break) and get medical and dental insurance and a pension (albeit not a huge one). I'm not sure its worth trading all that for a low, but secret salary.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:05: I believe that teaching in a yeshiva is a lifestyle choice, with many intangible benefits: not just yom tov off, but erev yom tov and sometimes isru chag. Many teachers value a "kosher" environment both spiritually and literally. The public school schedule varies dramatically from the yeshiva schedule, and many yeshiva teachers value being on the same schedule as their own kids, along with the savings on childcare. If yeshiva teaching jobs are so bad, why don't yeshiva teachers apply for jobs in the public schools, with the higher salaries and benefits?

It's a lifestyle choice. Nothing wrong with making that choice. But if you choose a job that suits your lifestyle, and it pays less than an alternative that is less convenient and suitable, that's a choice, and life is full of them.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:05: my comment about not having salaries published was tongue in cheek, but maybe with a glimmer of truth to it. Sorry if you didn't get that.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Tessya - I'm a little slow this morning. Didn't have my second cup of coffee yet.

Anonymous said...

And I apologize if I was a little strident. I'm only on my first diet Coke :)

Anonymous said...

While we are on teacher's salaries, I presume that for the same reasons the coops can't give scholarships, the teachers will not get free/reduced tuition for their children -- unless its a dollar for dollar reduction in salary. If so, 40K at the coop might not be worth the same as 30K at a yeshiva that gives tuition breaks to teachers. Therefore, the coops might have compete for teachers not only with the public schools on the one end, but the traditional yeshivas on the other end. But, as Al pointed out, they don't need to attract 50 teachers, just a few.

Anonymous said...

No apologies necessary tesyaa. Now that I'm awake I appreciate the wit.

Lion of Zion said...


"Most public school teachers are out by 3:00 on fridays, can use their personal and sick leave days for yom tov"

my wife workds for the NYC board of ed. she gets out 2:30 on fridays. but no personal days. using sick days for yom tov is a no-no, but some principals permit it. her's is very strict, and so my wife is actually penazlized for yom tov(%133 of the day's salary is deducted). however being an OT she is employed under the nurses' contract and not the teachers' contract. iirc the teachers' contract does provide for religious observance days (no pay, but no penalty either?).

word verification: haste

Lion of Zion said...

that comment was meant for anon, not tesyaa. seems like the word verification was also a warning.

Mike S. said...

Miami Al: My last post was meant to reply to Offwinger, but if that is the job market in Miami than the model will work at least until the job market picks up. (Or enough people are enticed back north by the pay differential.) Of course, since FL is one of those handful of states where the absurd building of developments only to flip them nearly wrecked the whole world's economy I imagine the FL real estate will be cheap for some time to come, which helps make such low wages manageable.

However, I bet that the public school teacher at #38K gets benefits, that probably push the total value of the compensation package up above $45K

JLan said...

"While we are on teacher's salaries, I presume that for the same reasons the coops can't give scholarships, the teachers will not get free/reduced tuition for their children -- unless its a dollar for dollar reduction in salary."

A section 125 (cafeteria) plan would allow for pretax money to go to the tuition, though I'm not sure if there's a minimum size before you can offer one.

LoZ- "iirc the teachers' contract does provide for religious observance days (no pay, but no penalty either?)."

The teacher's contract provides that teachers taking religious observance days lose the amount from their salaries necessary to pay a substitute. That typically means about all of the money for a new teacher, but an experienced teacher will still get something on religious observance days, just reduced from the regular amount.

Miami Al said...

Mike S.,

The global collapse was NOT because too many people built buildings in Florida... it's because the Jewish Banking Conspiracy(tm) in NYC created massive leverage instruments that caused a fall in housing prices in Florida to wipe out Iceland plus NYC area banks.

Too many homes built in Florida drives down housing prices, people lose their down payment, etc., but the cascading failure was NOT because people built them but failed financial models that let people make massive profits on small upticks and then catastrophic losses on a downtick.

Wage differentials here have always been big. The effect on net migration has been negligable, although recently wages have been depressed below housing costs and we've seen smaller immigration and a few years with net emmigration.

The free market works...

But people aren't going to flow into high cost of living, high tax areas, because few people can make the salary increase to make it work.

Orthonomics said...

Forgive my ignorance... but is this considered a bargain?

Shoshana Z.--Yes, unfortunately $7,500 is a huge bargain. Published tuitions on the East Coast are just massive.

Anyone want to bet that this wonderful cooperative school model will NEVER happen in BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

Anonymous-The only reason that a cooperative won't happen is if people won't make it happen. There is no reason that cooperatives can't be replicated in some shape or form in other communities. In fact, this is the very reason I am carrying such Public Service Annoucements: for educational purposes. I'm taking notes. I hope others are too.

or they are stiffing the teachers.

Last I checked, in a free market system employees are free to enter into (legal) contracts. If a teacher accepted the offer and they are being paid as agreed upon, they are not being "stiffed."

It is not unique to the frum world that teachers will teach at lower rates than offered by the public schools. I know a certified teacher who will only teach in Christian schools and for 30 something years has accepted pay that is far below "market." She wants to be in a Christian environment. She doesn't want to deal with a lot of red tape. She wants the freedom the Christian classroom provides. She wants to work with like minded staff and administration. She isn't being "stiffed," she is exercising free choice.

@ProfK-I really don't understand your objections and can only chalk them up to a philosphical difference between conventional schooling and non-conventional choices. These parents aren't starting a school for everyone. They are starting a school for their own children and are looking to include other like minded parents. They aren't looking to be a conventional school, nor are they advertising themselves as such.

Given the price, it doesn't seem like there is much financial room or any room for any parents who might need reduced tuition because of multiple children in the school.

Perhaps it is hard to comprehend, but the school is fee and volunteer work for service. The schools isn't designed to service a family with 8 children who can only pay $8000, nor are they pretending to be such a school.

And what will happen if facilities rent/operating costs go up, as they inevitably do?

Likely the same thing other people do in a free market: either pay the increased costs or seek an alternative product.

I'd say that anyone wanting to jump on this bandwagon should wait until a full school K-8 is up and running and see how the finances play out.

I think you are missing a major component in the world or alternatives. These parents are pioneers and are looking for other pioneeers with the will power to make something work. Those who would prefer a conventional school can head over to the many established conventional schools.

Coop schooling is often touted as a "complete" substitute for the tradtional day school/yeshiva educational model.

No it isn't! In fact, if you open up the application for the coming school year you will see that the school asks parents if they understand what a co-op is and ask parents what they plan to do to contribute to the co-op.

I'd say the school is quite upfront.

A last word on salaries: [Don't ask me how I know this] I am aware that there are very experienced teachers in high priced schools making (ballpark) the same salary in high published cost yeshiva/day schools as the Florida co-op is offering. So, no the salary doesn't seem low at all to me.

Anonymous said...

I think the coop sounds great and could be a terrific model for at least k-6. One of the reasons this may work is that this is a selected group of parents who are very involved in their kid's education, have given a lot of thought to this and to educational models, will know what's happening at the school and will have the flexibility to make changes and, presumably, will be very supportive of the teachers. As long as the school stays relatively small (and it can continue to get space at low rent) it sounds like it has terrific prospects. It's not the solution for everyone or every place. I wish them well.

Avi said...

I'm with Anon 6:04. It doesn't meet my needs for my kids right now, but the more low cost alternatives the better - good luck!

Anonymous said...

Orthonomics - you just completely "get it". Please move down and join us!

Orthonomics said...

Thanks Anon. Wish I could say we are on our way. :) I don't know if we will every live in Flordia, but I'm taking notes and if we do get to Flordia to visit family, we will certainly pay a visit to the school.

Dave said...

Remember that they don't need to find every teacher, they just need to find a few for whom the compensation is attractive.

Tuition benefits are meaningless if you don't have school aged children.

Modest insurance benefits are meaningless if you already have better (whether through a spouse, through military benefits, or through some other manner).

Anonymous said...

Another local South Florida Orthodox day school just published 2010/2011 rates:
Kindergarten: $14,525
First Grade: $15,975
This school does not have any additional fees (although there is a disclaimer that there "may be an additional surcharge of $750 per student if this year's Jewish Federation is below the projected budgeted contribution.") As you can see, Jewish Cooperative School comes in at nearly 1/2 the price at $7500.

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Tova said...

Um, since when is 15K a year for a 6-year-old's Jewish education a 'bargain'? I don't get it.

Where I live, not even high school tuition exceeds 10K a year.

Anonymous said...

Tova - that's the point. This cooperative school has been able to reduce tuition to $7500 per grade and limit class size to 10 students. The local yeshivas are charging much more.

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