Paula Gottesman and her husband, Jerry, believe that a thriving Jewish future requires educated Jews, and that it is a communal responsibility to provide the means for quality Jewish education. The Gottesmans are pioneers in the development of programs for middle-income affordability and day school endowments.
HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal
Money of course does matter, in myriad ways, to the functioning of our schools. Just as important are the perceptions about money that circulate among stakeholders: How do funders decide where to put their money? What do employees think and say about salary and work conditions? How do parents and prospective parents understand the school's value? What are the explicit and implicit messages students learn about money? Authors present guidance and reflections on the systems of day school finances while exploring the questions around school value.
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Tuitions in our time are inexorably following an upward curve. How can we be sure that families are getting what they pay for?
Is our school worth it?
These five words lie at the heart of the private school experience—for families, for students, and for governing bodies. No matter what the dollar figures being discussed might be—four thousand or forty—this query lies at the center of the most critical conversations in a school’s existence: parental decisions, board tuition-setting meetings, and even those casual social discussions that determine a school’s reputation on the cocktail-party circuit or in the carpool caucus.
In Field of Dreams, actor Kevin Costner plays an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball field on his land after hearing a mysterious voice which whispers “if you build it, HE will come.” “HE” is a former baseball great who eventually appears on the Iowa ball field, joined by other (deceased) baseball greats. The film ends in true Hollywood style: throngs of people come to this Iowa ball field to see the former baseball greats play on Costner’s land.
Capital campaigns. Scholarship funds. Teacher salaries. Tuition increases. Schools can’t afford (quite literally) to ignore the topic of money. Indeed, board members and heads of school may well feel the bulk of their work is dedicated to money: raising it, allocating it, worrying about it. And yet, with rare exception, schools are not teaching their students about money.
In healthy, stable organizations with strong leadership and governance, a short-term resource challenge and even a crisis can generate innovative, adaptive thinking and great leadership. However, a steady state of financial disequilibrium can lull leaders into a vicious cycle of short-term thinking and what I would call “make-sure-we’re-still-around-tomorrow management.” When school leaders are constantly worried about balancing budgets, declining enrollment, sustaining programs, and meeting our fundraising goals, who has time to think strategically, creatively, adaptively?
Jewish day schools strive to teach students challenging academic content in a range of disciplines, to create caring communities of moral sensitivity, and to graduate future leaders of the Jewish people. This broad set of expectations and aspirations leaves Jewish day school leaders stretching limited resources to accomplish many goals.
We’re an EC-8th grade community day school with about 350 students. We held a traditional golf tournament for 10 years and used the proceeds to endow a $250,000 scholarship fund. Over time, the expenses of the tournament escalated and the number of golfers dropped. We discontinued the tournament five years ago. Two years ago we went to a 100 hole format. Here’s how to set one up.
If Rip Van Winkle were to wake up in a number of our schools today, he would recognize everything. This is how we felt four years ago. We knew that we had to “catch up.” And along came a new head of school, who wanted Rip Van Winkle to wake up in our school and not know where he was! She began to transform our learning community. Along with strengthening our secular and Jewish education, our goal was to ensure that our students will graduate with all the tools and skills needed for their future success at their fingertips.
Fundraising Campaigns in Our Schools: Alumni Family Giving, Building a Bright Future by Connecting to our PastDec 29, 2014 Gottesman RTW Academy, Randolph, New Jersey
Since its first graduating class in 1974, the Gottesman RTW Academy, formerly the Hebrew Academy of Morris County, located in Randolph, New Jersey, has had almost 500 eighth graders move up to high school and beyond. The impact that this school has had on those students’ lives and perhaps, just as importantly, on their families, is immeasurable.
This time of year is annual giving season. By now, schools have sent out their annual appeal letters and are starting telethons, social networking campaigns, email campaigns, and even videos campaigns asking parents, grandparents, alumni, and community members to give. Pitches may be different: Give to the Scholarship Fund, Help Buy iPads for Each Student, or Support Advancement and Excellence. But in the end, annual fundraising is an effort to help schools fill the annual budgetary gap between tuition and the cost of running the school.
My husband is an obstetrician/gynecologist and one of the things he says he has learned is that the most intimate topic of conversation between doctor and patient is not that three letter word you would expect, but in fact money…
Every morning I wake up and bound off to school excited for a new day, ready to greet my students with a smile and meet the challenges the day holds in store. I love my job because of the students. I don't think any person would be crazy enough to be a head of school were it not for the amazing things children do. On a daily basis, we get to witness our students growing into empowered, engaged, and responsible members of Am Yisrael and the world.
Since the end of the summer, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in two day-long meetings dealing with Hebrew in day schools and other parts of our Jewish educational system. Both meetings, though forward-looking in their focus, reflected what seemed to be a shared sense among participants that Hebrew language learning and teaching—despite some notable bright spots—generally faces an uphill struggle in our schools.
Since the Pew Research Center issued the results of its survey of U.S. Jews last year, most of the commentary has been downbeat, with many people worried about the rise of Jews of no religion and no denominational identity, the continued increase in intermarriage (especially among the non-Orthodox), and lackluster levels of Jewish identity, communal affiliation, and raising children as Jews. To keep a long study short, in this interpretation, things are not looking so good for the Jews in America.
It seems in the world of philanthropy every five years or so a new buzzword or phrase overtakes charitable foundations and other institutional and private funders. During the span of my career we’ve been through efficiency, effectiveness, strategic philanthropy, venture philanthropy, and impact, to name a few. As these concepts build on each other they travel in turn through the nonprofit and philanthropic sector as magic bullet of the day. As in many fields, trends in philanthropy tend to follow a similar trajectory from insightful and powerful to hackneyed and meaningless.
A decade ago, the Jewish community debated whether vouchers violated the church-state wall and whether this “slippery slope” was worth the potential boon of millions in government aid to Jewish day schools. Since then, numerous judicial rulings have answered the church-state question and created an environment in which more than $1 billion dollars in 19 states, both blue and red, is now being spent on various school choice programs. The question of “possible” is moot. Every Jewish day school is eligible for some form of government funding.
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