Source: The Jewish Daily Forward
At the May 3, 2009 OU Synagogue Leadership Seminar of the OU’s West Coast Division in Los Angeles, Rabbi Saul Zucker, Director of the Department of Day School and Educational Services of the O. U., presented a two headed plan to help meet the economic crisis faced by yeshiva and day school administrations and parents across the nation.
- Nationwide Health Insurance – The OU is working with a major insurer on a plan for yeshiva day schools. The schools would join a group of about 40,000 other participants, whose demographics would determine the premium. It is estimated that the potential savings for any given school over the course of the year is tens of thousands of dollars.
- Energy Cost-Cutting Measures - A switch to solar energy has already presented one school in New Jersey with a potential savings of $80,000. Other schools would incur little or no costs in the conversion, through arrangements worked out by the OU and a provider.
- Grant writing – Using a professional grants consultant, to be made available via the O.U., to identify government and private sources for additional financial support and draft the grant proposals to obtain the funds.
- Revenue-Generating OU Toolbar - Having yeshiva students, parents and faculty use and get others to use a custom Internet toolbar offered through the O.U. for their Web browser. With each click, corporate sponsors whose ads jump to the top of searches will contribute to a fund to be maintained by the O.U. and disbursed to the schools.
- Holding bingo fundraising events to generate income.
- Setting up a kehilla, or community fund, via local Orthodox congregations to allow schools to broaden their fundraising base beyond the families of their students. Under this plan, congregational rabbis would promote donations of roughly $20-$30 per month, to be automatically deducted from the bank accounts or charged to the credit cards of synagogue members to support nearby yeshivas.
Zucker said that his six-point program emerged from a summit of Jewish education officials in New York last January, at which some 20 initiatives were discussed. The schools involved ultimately agreed on six of them.
Even with the implementation of these cost saving measures, it cannot be expected that tuition will be significantly reduced. This leads to part two of the plan, the reduced cost yeshiva.
With a growing number of Orthodox families forced to consider removing their children from private Jewish schools due to their lack of financial resources, a proposal for setting up a new kind of yeshiva day school was put forth.
The concept of the reduced tuition school will operate as follows:
- Class size of 25, not 15-18;
- No fixed aides to every classroom in the lower grades;
- No after-school extracurricular programs unless staffed by volunteers;
- A cooperative model of education in which parents sign on to giving four hours per month in providing services to the school in different ways;
- Teachers’ salaries to remain competitive with the market;
- A computer lab to be present but not one with “absolute star-quality cutting-edge equipment.”
Such a a stripped-down yeshiva could give a child a solid Jewish and secular education for some $6,500 to $7,000 per year rather than the $15,000 to $20,000 today.