Despite a challenging economic climate, enrollment at Jewish community day schools in the U.S. and Canada holds nearly steady with last year’s levels, according to a just-released annual school survey. Current school enrollment decreased less than one percent – 0.66 percent – from levels recorded during the 2009-10 academic year. The figure stands in sharp contrast to the 4.6 percent decline recorded a year ago.
The survey is conducted annually by RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network and is considered the most authoritative barometer of enrollment trends within the movement, covering 111 pluralistic, non-denominational day schools across the continent.
In real numbers, enrollment in the current academic year in kindergartens through high school grades totals 26,896 students, a decrease of only 178 students from 2009-10.
Among the areas of growth are the western region of the United States, where community day schools reported an enrollment increase of 1.37 percent, and Canada, where schools registered a 1.06 percent increase.
Larger schools with enrollments of between 300 and 600 students showed increases as well. Those with students numbering between 300 and 500 reported nearly a one-percent increase; those with study bodies totaling between 500 and 600 students showed an increase of about three quarters of a percent.
Still, there are pockets of continuing weakness. Community day schools in the mid-western region of the U.S. reported an overall 4.06 percent decrease in enrollment and those in the mid-Atlantic region saw enrollment drop by 2.54 percent.
Smaller schools continue to be harder hit, with those with student populations of less than 100 reporting an 8.16 percent drop from the last academic year.
Throughout the RAVSAK network of Jewish community day schools, officials are accommodating to the reality of the economy and making programming, financial and communications decisions to maintain or grow enrollments.
National groups such as RAVSAK are establishing initiatives to properly equip member schools to survive difficulties and help ensure that overall enrollment numbers continue to trend upwards.