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Wednesday, February 01, 2023
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At a Chanukah play at one of my grandchildren’s schools, an assistant principal attempted to light a menorah on stage. As she fumbled with the matches, a second assistant principal bounded up to the stage to lend moral support. Finally, as the candle was about to be lit, the head of school also came on stage to assist and stand next to the others. As this was taking place, my daughter asked me, “How many day school administrators does it take to light a menorah?”

We may laugh but the issue is a serious one. Day schools today have become a very complicated enterprise. There are so many options, programs, extracurricular offerings, special needs, technology, general guidance, Israel programming and schools, support services, chesed programs, fundraising, alumni activities, admissions, student services, etc., that the job of administering schools has been divided up into sub-categories. We no longer have schools that just teach the basics. In order to be competitive, schools offer a Chinese menu of options. This, in turn, requires a large staff to support all of these educational and quasi-educational programs. In addition to the multifaceted programs available, there is also the edifice issue, which is needed to support our 21st-century day schools.

We can never turn the clock back. Simplicity and basics don’t sell today. I remember Rabbi Dr. Abraham Atkin, who was the long-time principal of Yavneh Academy when it was still in Paterson. He was a fine educator. Some of the textbooks he wrote are still being used today. He had no assistant principals, and he knew every child by name. Graduates went on to MTA, Central, and Ramaz (the only options at the time) well prepared for high school. Today, that kind of education–one that focused on the essentials–would be called no-frills. Are we really better off with our multiplex approach?

Head of School

Executive Director

Director of Guidance and Student Services

Early Childhood Director/ Assistant Principal, General Studies, 1-2

Director of Special Services

Director of Guidance, Middle School

Assistant to the Principals

Director of Educational Technology

Assistant Principal, General Studies 3-5

Associate Principal, General Studies 6-8

Assistant Principal, Judaic Studies, 1-5

Assistant Principal Middle School

Principal

Associate Principal, Middle School

Associate Principal, Lower School

Associate Principal for General Studies in the Lower School

Assistant Principal, Middle School

Jewish Studies

Early Childhood Director

Director, Student Support Services

Business Administrator

Director of Technology

Director of Admissions, Communications, and HR

Director of Development

Head of School

Director of Religious Affairs and Academic Studies

Principal, Judaic Studies

Principal, General Studies, Lower School

Associate Principal

Associate Principal: General Studies

Mashgicha Ruchanit

Early Childhood Director

Early Childhood Assistant Director

Director of Special Services

Director of Transitional Program

Business Director-Controller

Principal

Director of Early Childhood

Assistant Director of Early Childhood

Assistant Principal, Elementary School

Assistant Principal, Judaic Studies, Elementary School

Assistant Principal, Judaic Studies, Middle School

Assistant Principal, General Studies, Middle School

Director of Admissions

Director of Educational Technology and Innovation

Rosh HaYeshiva

General Studies Principal

Early Childhood Director/Assistant Principal

Director of Admissions and PR

Director of Special Services/1st and 2nd Grade Coordinator

Director of Development

Dean

Managing Director

Business Manager & Director of Development

Administrative Director

Director of Educational Technology

Associate Dean/Director

Director

Associate Director

Director of Communications

Headmaster

Principal

Dean, Student Life & Welfare

Executive Director

Associate Principal

Associate Principal/Director of Student Support Services

Mashgiach Ruchani

Director of Admissions

Director of College Guidance

Director of Israel Guidance

Director of General Studies

Assistant Principal

Assistant Principal

Rosh haYeshiva

Principal for General Studies/Math

Executive Director

Director of Admissions

Director of College Guidance/History

Director of Guidance and Student Support Services

Director of Development and Community Relations

Director of Information Technology

Dean of Student Life/Humash, Gemara

Assistant Director of Student Life/Math

Director of Israel Guidance/Limudei Kodesh

Principal

Assistant Principal

Assistant Principal

Administrator

Director of Educational Technology Director of Community Relations

Pre-School Director

Assistant Director

Executive Director

Director of Judaic Studies

Technology Coordinator

Students Services Coordinator

Event Coordinator

Head of School

Chief Academic Officer/Director of Academic Affairs

Middle School Principal/School Rabbi

Early Childhood Director/Lower School Principal, General Studies

Director of Jewish Studies

Director of Admissions

Business Manager

Director of Institutional Advancement

Director of Operations and Finance

Rosh Yeshiva

Mashgiach Ruchani

Principal

Head of School

Head of School

Director of Business and Operations

Curriculum Coordinator/3rd grade General Studies teacher

Special Services and Early Childhood Coordinator/Kindergarten teacher

Rosh Yeshiva

Educational Consultant for General Studies

 

Aside from the need for so many administrators to do what principals or administrative assistants (i.e., secretaries) used to do, or what teachers themselves did, there is a significant expense involved. Given the crisis of escalating day-school tuition, and the need to cut expenses, do we really need so many non-teaching personnel in our day schools? This is a loaded question on many levels. Granted that schools are not run as they were decades ago, granted that some administrators also teach, and granted that many important functions are carried out by administrators, nevertheless, those charged with the running of schools need to explore this issue.

Obviously there is a need for some administrative support beyond the scope of teachers’ or principals’ abilities. However, perhaps there are other models to consider.

There are 15 day schools in northern New Jersey (excluding one residential yeshiva high school for out-of-town students) serving thousands of children. Based on the information found on school websites, there are over 115 administrators. (Some positions may have been omitted and others may no longer exist). These are their titles by school:

The plethora of titles and functions probably adds up to over several million dollars in salaries. Perhaps half of these positions could be performed by talented teachers eager for some additional compensation. Some positions may be filled by volunteers. Many different angles need to be explored if we are to be fiscally responsible.

When this was raised with the president of one day school his response was that he could not interfere with educational decisions. This evasive non sequitur was as ludicrous as it was flagrantly meretricious. Since when are educational policy decisions made by educators? (That alone is worth a separate discussion.) Lay leaders set the school policies. If the school board decided to cut some positions it would happen.

The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey provides some (inadequate) funding to day schools without requiring anything in return. Schools are funded simply because they exist and they do not have to exhibit any objective criteria regarding educational excellence, fiscal responsibility, achieving goals, or even what their criteria are for student accomplishment. (Yet another article.) Perhaps it’s time to start that discussion as well.

Rabbi Dr. Wallace Greene has had a distinguished career as a Jewish educator. He has taught children, teens, and adults. He was a college professor, day-school principal, and director of two central agencies for Jewish education, including our own community’s Jewish Educational Services, for over a decade. He is the founder of the Sinai School, and has received many prestigious awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lifshitz College of Education in Jerusalem and The World Council on Torah Judaism. He is currently a consultant to schools, non-profit organizations, and The International March of The Living. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Wallace Greene

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