Study Finds “federation All Ocations to Day Schools Not Keeping Pace with Burgeoning Per Capita Expe
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Study Finds “federation All Ocations to Day Schools Not Keeping Pace with Burgeoning Per Capita Expe

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The American Association for Jewish Education, citing a national study it has just concluded on the budgeting and financing of day schools, declared this week that Jewish Federation allocations to these institutions are not keeping pace with burgeoning per capita expenses resulting from increased day school enrollment.

Arthur Brody, president of the AAJE, said Federations “must seek to formulate more realistic allocation patterns toward day schools in order to forestall the imminent possibility of any or all of three ominous alternatives: growing budget deficits, rising tuition fees or a diminution in the schools’ continuing ability to provide quality education for their students.”

Brody said the AAJE study of 73 day schools in 58 communities revealed that Federations increased their support to local day schools by an average of 10.4 percent from 1976-77 to 1977-78. “The figures sound good,” he said, “but they are misleading. Because of inflationary cost increases and — for more important — because the growth in day school enrollment has outstripped the rise in allocations, those allocations represent an average decrease of 5.1 percent on a per-pupil basis.”

By way of illustration, Brody said that if a school receives a 10 percent increase in its allocation at the same time that its student population has risen by 20 percent, “the impact of the allocation becomes a minus rather than a plus factor. This accounts for the AAJE’s concern that Federation decision-making on day school allocations — if based solely on dollar increases pegged to costs — may no longer be sufficient, practicable or even logical in light of present-day enrollment realities.”

The AAJE president said the agency’s current estimate of day school enrollment is more than 90,000 students, a rise of better than 50 percent over the 60,000 students enrolled in 1967. Brody noted also that while the study indicated a “dollar increase” in allocations, those amounts represented a 2.1 percent average decline among total Federation allocations — from 17.6 percent in 1976-77 to 15.5 percent in 1977-78.


“This disturbing phenomenon raises a number of basic philosophical questions,” he said, “namely: How great is the importance attached by Jewish communities to the day school movement? is it sufficient to alter their historic allocation patterns? And if Jewish education represents the best hope for creative Jewish survival, should the support of day schools — surely, the repository of our greatest expectations for providing quality education — occupy a more important place in Jewish communal planning?”

The study was conducted by the AAJE’s Department of Community Service, Information and Studies under the supervision of Dr. George Pollak, director of the Department. Pollak said the study disclosed that Federation allocations comprised only 19.2 percent of the average income of day schools, whereas a year earlier they accounted for 19.7 percent.

Since day school fund-raising also declined during the period surveyed, the schools had to make up the differences by increasing tuition by an average of 7.4 percent, he said. As a result. tuition fees represented 52.3 percent of the total income of day schools in 1977-78, a rise of 2.7 percent over the previous year.

However, Pollak pointed out that “no school in the study, not even the one with the highest tuition fees, charged parents the full per-pupil cost for educating their children.” While tuition fees may rise, he said, “it is the AAJE’s belief that they cannot increase to the extent that they represent a greater share of the total income of day schools then they presently do.

“Yet even if their proportionate share of the schools’ total income remains the same, the resulting dollar increase will discourage marginally interested parents from enrolling their children and create great financial hardships for others who while committed to giving their children a day school education, will find the costs growingly prohibitive.”

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