From the president of HDS

I met this morning with Dan Katz, president of Hillel Day School.

A few moments ago, I approved a comment to my blog that Mr. Katz posted on Tuesday evening. If you read through that comment, you will see some figures that are truly astounding, regarding the amount of financial aid that is allocated, the percentage of families who are on the receiving end of that assistance, and the decrease in monies received from Federation, and from donors to the school. It also outlines how the school managed to save $700K two years ago. I invite you to read this comment.

Dan Katz’s commitment to Jewish education cannot be questioned. It is absolutely clear to me that he is utterly committed to helping as many Jewish families as possible give their children a Day School education. However, his commitment is stifled by the inability of the school to continue to fill payroll, as the amount of money currently owed to the school from delinquency of tuition payments is now into 7 figures.

In short, what I took from our meeting this morning, is that if your family owes the school money, and it is important to you that your children remain at HDS, figure out a payment plan that works. The school will work with you. The new business manager is trying to fix the many problems that exist as the result of few or no records being kept in the past. If you come to the school with a specific payment plan, that will allow you to pay them what you owe them, in addition to beginning to pay for next year’s tuition, if you plan on staying, they will do what they can to help you out.

Having said that, there are some families who owe tens of thousands of dollars. Not just from this past school year, but from years previous. To those families, the message is clear – if you are unable to pay what you committed to, you cannot expect your children to be welcomed back to school. The school is a service, and all services get cut off when the bills have not been paid after a certain amount of time.

To those families receiving tuition assistance, take a look at your lifestyle. Are you living within your means? I know that my family is. I like to believe that most of the families who need financial aid are not living beyond their means. Mr. Katz feels differently, he says he has seen too much to the contrary. I don’t want to know who those families are, but if any of them are reading this, perhaps the numbers will make them think differently.

I want my children to have the best Jewish education possible for as long as I can give it to them. For now, I can only hope and pray that I will somehow be able to figure out a way to pay the school what we owe them, and begin paying them for next year, so that I can keep them at the school for at least one more year.

I still believe that Ben-Gamla may be the only option for our family in the future, and for many other families too. It is not fair to continue to take from others what I cannot give back. As long as there are other like-minded people, there should be no problem putting together a Judaics curriculum that fits in with our hashkafa, and that does not break us financially.

My hope, my prayer, is that by some miracle (or great job contract), we become blessed in a way that will allow us to pay full tuition, not only for my 3 children, but in excess of that, so that another family may continue to benefit from the great education at Hillel Day School of Boca Raton.

I forgot to mention that Mr. Katz made it absolutely clear that financial aid will never end.


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