May 19, 2024
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May 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Stop Talking and Do Something Already!

Paddling along the Delaware River.

Everyone has an idea to solve the problem of rising day school/yeshiva tuition, but most of the ideas are unrealistic or unworkable. Yet they continue to proliferate. Even if a workable idea was put forth and agreed upon, the structure to implement it doesn’t exist. Organizational input has so far not solved the problem. The UJA Federation gives lip service and a few dollars to day schools but since disbanding their educational arm, Jewish Educational Services, they lack the will and wherewithal to engage in this process. The OU’s entry is welcome but their progress is very slow in this area, although they have made some advances in other important areas. The RCBC either cannot or will not get involved.

Under these circumstances, I don’t understand why there is no grassroots parent group that has coalesced around this issue. There are certainly capable individuals in every school. Why haven’t they banded together to implement some of the workable ideas that have been put forth?

Along a calm stretch of the Delaware River.

I have been writing about this issue for 20 years in local and national publications. So far in our area nothing meaningful has happened. If parents really want to do something, form a 501(c)3 advocacy group independent of the day schools with the sole purpose of providing financial aid to the schools. Known technically as a School Tuition Organization, (STO) this Bergen County Day School Association’s fundraising will provide scholarships to parents, or offset tuition charges by the schools. Some realistic projects are:

  1. Tuition tax credits. Gov. Chris Christie supported this idea but there wasn’t adequate support for it at the time. Simply put, a bill can be passed by the NJ Legislature allowing a portion of an individual’s or a corporate tax return to be allocated to The Bergen County Day School Association. The Supreme Court has ruled that this does not violate church/state laws. About 15 states now do this and millions of dollars are going to private and parochial schools. Parents need to work with the archdiocese, lobby legislators, and bring buses to Trenton. It works.

    Paddling through the rapids.
  2. A luxury tax. Every restaurant in our area can add on ½% or 1% to the bill for a day school scholarship fund. No one will object since it is a pittance compared to the overall bill. The computerized billing system can easily divert the credit card charge to The Bergen County Day School Association. Do the math next time your family goes out to eat and multiply it by the number of people filling our restaurants daily.
  3. Partnership investing. We are blessed with many successful investors and brokers in our community. The bigger the bundle of money invested, the higher the return. If I invest $100,000, my return will not be as great as the investment of $1,000,000. We can create a cadre of charity- minded investors to bundle large investments with the understanding that 1-2% of the return will be shared with The Bergen County Day School Association.

    Campsite at Walpack Bend.
  4. Cut down the number of non-teaching administrators! Many of their tasks can be assigned to teachers at significantly less than the six figure salaries paid to these administrators. It’s a big chunk of every school’s operating budget. It’s not hard to do the math.
  5. Rethink the allocations of our charitable community. Millions of dollars are donated annually to a variety of Jewish causes locally, nationally and to Israel. These are all very worthy causes or organizations. However, the Talmud (Bava Metzia 71a), followed by RaMBaM and all the poskim, state definitively that local needs take precedence in the allocation of tzedakah. It’s a big task, and here the RCBC can be a major player, but a moratorium of one or two years on outside giving with these funds going to The Bergen County Day School Association will make a big difference
Old railroad bridge abutment.


Delaware Water Gap.

These are not pie-in-the-sky solutions to a serious problem. The leadership vacuum needs to be filled in order for any of these ideas to become a reality. Who’s willing to step up to the plate?

Dr. Wallace Greene is a veteran day school educator, principal and administrator.

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