As the nature of Jewish philanthropy shifts and changes, day school education is increasingly sapping the resources of philanthropists and foundations. The sheer magnitude of the need reorients and realigns philanthropic priorities, leaving many urgent projects without funding.
Secular school districts in the heavily Orthodox-populated areas experience strain as well. Their state funding is determined by a formula that draws heavily on enrollment. Therefore, they face a continuously decreasing funding stream, as their enrollment shrinks. It is frustrating for administrators of school districts to function in the situation in which 80% of children within their districts are educated privately, as is the case, for example, in Monsey and Lakewood. The opportunity to increase their enrollment and fulfill their mission should be attractive to the districts; it is in their interest to enroll private school children.
Jewish educational institutions could lease space in their local school district’s available or vacant school buildings. In the mornings, these institutions would conduct a religious study program on a purely private basis. In the afternoon the space would revert back and a secular studies program could then be conducted, run and funded completely and solely by the school district. With this type of arrangement, 40-60% of budget of a typical yeshiva or day school is paid for by the districts.
The goal is to persuade a yeshiva or day school in one of these communities to partner with a special education program and to lease space for religious studies in the morning in an available public school facility as described above and have the district conduct the secular studies programs at the same location in the afternoons. Partnering with a special education program is especially attractive to school districts because it provides an uncontested Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE – a legal entitlement) to children in this program.
A novel idea like this will require consensus-building with community leaders, rabbis, educators and public and private school administrators. With the school districts directly providing and funding secular studies and special education within mainstream settings, significant reduction of overall tuition expenses and the alleviation of financial pressure on the individual parents and their communities would be possible.
For more information contact Dr. Mark Levin at firstname.lastname@example.org