April 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A Viral Opportunity? Not So Simple

In “A Viral Opportunity,” (April 24, 2020) Gershon Distenfeld makes excellent points about focusing on modesty in our spending decisions in order to reduce the financial pressure of living in our community. However, he also misleadingly touts Yeshivat He’Atid’s financial model as being a paradigm for reducing the community’s school tuition burden. Yeshivat He’Atid is able to charge $10,150 per year for elementary school and $11,400 per year for middle school in large part because, as he says, 97% of parents pay full tuition. Where do families send their children if they can’t afford this tuition? To the other local schools, who provide significant financial support for families, some of whom can pay very little. These other schools also provide a significant amount of special learning services. Parents in these other schools who are able to pay full tuition are subsidizing the students who cannot do so, and all parents who pay tuition in these schools are helping to provide special services whether they need them or not. If every other school went to Yeshivat He’Atid’s model, and gave out very few scholarships, their tuitions would be reduced by around 25%, but then there would be hundreds of children left out in the cold. Simply put, Yeshivat He’Atid’s model depends on the parents of other schools paying full tuition.

And it’s not just other elementary schools. High schools are also subsidizing Yeshivat He’Atid when a family sends their elementary school age children to Yeshivat He’Atid and their high school age children to a high school and they receive a scholarship from that high school which is not matched by Yeshivat He’Atid. This is not to say that our local schools should not be focused on ways of reducing the tuition burden, and to the extent Yeshivat He’Atid has found creative means of doing so, they should be carefully considered. But lowering tuition and not providing scholarships is not an approach we can take as a community if we want to provide a Jewish education to all of our children. Instead, we need to focus on ways to encourage more families who can afford to donate to our schools to do so, including by coming together as a community to reduce spending in non-essential areas and redirecting that money to our schools.

Yosef Rubinstein
Teaneck
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