The chagim are behind us, and that means the season of yeshiva open houses is about to begin. Over the next few weeks, parents will have the opportunity to attend open house presentations at each school and to tour the schools to experience them first-hand. Soon enough, it will be time to select a school for your child.
One consistent harbinger of this season is the renewed interest in discussing what has come to be known as the “tuition crisis.” This paper published two articles last week that discussed the issue and proposed a number of different solutions. But more notable than all of the solutions discussed was the one that neither article mentioned: Yeshivat He’Atid.
Yeshivat He’Atid is currently in its sixth year, and this is my second year as the head of school. We are proud to have more than 370 students this year in grades pre-k through sixth grade, and blessed to be enjoying our second year in our brand-new and spacious building.
Our school was founded with the mission of providing an excellent 21st-century secular and Judaic education at an affordable price. Furthermore, our goal is to do so not by relying on external funding, but by building an educational model that is innovative, cutting edge and utilizes best practices of schools around the country that have cut costs while improving educational outcomes. Our goal is to see our model replicated in Jewish communities around the country.
Our rotational model and data-driven approach ensure that children with different learning styles and at various levels can succeed within their classrooms, rather than relying on expensive and stigmatizing pull-outs. Since we have committed to keeping tuition in-line with inflation, we are forced to maximize the percentage of our budget that goes toward education and minimize out-of-classroom administrative costs. Additionally, our scholarships are not funded by tuition, as we raise the necessary funds through voluntary donations and our annual FunRun.
While our mission is to make Jewish education affordable for as many families as possible, we are proud that cost is not the only reason people send to our school. We have many parents who could afford to send their kids anywhere but choose to send to Yeshivat He’Atid after seeing the educational benefits of our model. Several parents have told me they would send here even if tuition doubled!
New parents: when you start the tour circuit, you will see many excellent schools. There may be a specific reason that one school or another is the only place to send your child, but in most cases, you’ll have many great options to choose from. But if you are concerned about the tuition crisis, now is the time to do something about it.
If you are getting ready to register your first child for school, keep in mind this is only the beginning. There will be tuition for the younger kids, summer camp, bar/bat mitzvot, high school, college, weddings, etc. There is no shame in factoring in costs when selecting a school. In fact, it is your responsibility to make sure your family can afford to pay for school and still address other needs in life. If tuition will bring extreme stress into your marriage or come at the expense of taking care of your family, you run the risk of “yatza s’charo behefsedo,” that what you give up will outweigh the benefit. If children get the message that yeshiva education brings pain instead of joy, they will be getting exactly the opposite of the love of Torah that we work so hard to instill in our children.
Now is the time to prevent your own personal tuition crisis, before it even begins. And years from now, when you are at another Shabbat table where everyone is discussing the tuition crisis, you can say, “Baruch Hashem for Yeshivat He’Atid!”
By Rav Tomer Ronen
Rav Tomer Ronen is the Yeshivat He’Atid head of school.