Editor’s note: This article appeared Tuesday on ou.org, the website of the Orthodox Union. You can read a story about Jewish day schools and education choice from reimaginED senior writer Lisa Buie here.
Leaders from six Jewish day schools in South Florida recently convened to discuss the historic school choice expansion that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law on March 27. The new law expands scholarships to all K-12 students in the state and will give approximately $8,000 per student.
This could bring as much as $40 million of new funds into Jewish day schools, which will help alleviate South Florida families who are struggling with the private school tuition crisis. One concern shared by many parents is that the influx of these funds will cause schools to raise tuition by $8,000, which would negate the affordability factor.
To address this issue, representatives from Jewish day schools met in a small focus group with staff members and the executive committee from Teach Florida, a project of the Orthodox Union, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization. The schools strongly affirmed that affordability is a critical component of their educational mission and will remain a key focus for them moving forward.
“Affordability is an important value of our schools,” says Teach Florida Engagement Director Melissa Glaser. “They don’t intend to take the state funds and then turn around and increase tuition by an equivalent amount. The schools recognize the value of affordability, and their goal is to support families receiving much-needed relief funds toward tuition, while providing a quality education to their students.”
Rabbi Bernstein of Toras Emes agrees, and says, “Over the last decade, we raised tuition very minimally as we value affordable education for our families. This year, before learning of the school choice bill, we made the decision to raise tuition due to incredible hiring challenges and inflationary costs.”
He adds, “We fully support the fact that school choice funds are intended as a relief for parents and will not be viewed as extra entitlement for the school.”
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