Day Schools Weathering the Storm

December 15, 2009

Source: The Jewish Week


At a New York meeting in mid December 2009, convened by the Avi Chai Foundation, representatives of Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and community day schools discussed why and how most schools were able to retain students at a time of serious economic recession and what lessons can be learned going forward. On the table were the findings of a survey on enrollment changes in Jewish day schools from 2008-2009 to 2009-2010 compiled by Avi Chai. The most surprising finding of the survey is that while enrollment has declined, the drop has not been nearly as steep as many educators and communal officials had predicted.


There was a sense expressed at the meeting that the schools were able to prepare for the ‘09-‘10 academic year by cutting budgets and stepping up fundraising efforts. But there is concern that long-term, the best and perhaps only way to assure that day schools survive and flourish is by having communities share the financial burden instead of parents bearing the expense of tuitions alone.


Several educators at the meeting stressed that rather than be overly distracted by the possibility of new Jewish charter schools, day school officials should focus on providing quality education, first-rate lay and professional leadership, and collaborate with other schools on cost-saving measures wherever possible.

Updated: Dec. 24, 2009