Thursday, July 29, 2010


An anonymous guest post by a Yeshiva Administrator in response to Tuition pain-Tuition payin'

This is easily my hardest job as a school administrator and I wish it would come only once a year. Tonight, tomorrow and the day after will mark the umpteenth time I have had been trying to collect unpaid tuition dollars so that I can honor my institutional commitments to our faculty.

Yes, we are behind on salary payments to our devoted and talented staff. It is aggravating. It is humiliating. It is sleepless nights and dread filled days wondering how we can keep it all going. It is worse than the impending dental work looming over my head and making me fear the pain that is to come. I am hung up upon, avoided, talked about and/or even accused of misappropriation of funds (our books our open and fully transparent). And here I am at someone’s door again or calling on their cell phone to ask them to pay their bill for the excellent education my institution provided their child(ren) this past year.

See me, Hear me? On my knees. Pleeeeeeeease?

I am curious, do you negotiate with the butcher, the shoe store, the dress shop or the cashier at Walmart regarding price. So why does everyone negotiate with me?
Did you forget that scholarships are actually tzedakah funds you are asking for and/or receiving? They are.

I am truly sorry that Jennifer in Mamaland is offended or uncomfortable but we are talking about distribution of hard found tzedakah monies. Yes, scholarships are necessary. But we all need a reminder that it is personal charity which is funding these tuition grants and the sources for funds are fewer and fewer. The community has a responsibility to verify the veracity of the need before tzedaka funds are distributed, thus the forms, the questions and the committee reviews.

To those recalcitrant in honoring their commitments, I ask; do you pay your grocery bill? Your mortgage? Will you pay for that dreaded impending dental work bill? I am sure you will. So why not your tuition bill? I don’t mean, that you should pay more than you agreed to pay. I mean, just pay what you’re contract indicates you were going to pay. Don’t you realize that our budget is so tight that we count on the commitment you made to pay our bills?

Weren’t you the one that demanded educational excellence, good teachers and extra curricular programming so your child could grow and develop his/her mind, talents and skills. Why is school not your first priority for spending or rather investing (is there a better investment than a good Torah education?).

Funny, we are not a poor school just a patient and kind one. And yet somehow we are taken advantage of. Not by all, but by a more than a few who ruin it for everyone else.

Sadly and surprisingly, tuition just isn’t the priority it was for my parents and grandparents who were moser nefesh for my siblings and I to receive a Day School education.

Today the “sexy tzedakos” are all the rage. Schools are at the bottom of charity lists of the big renowned philanthropists, communal leaders and personal ma’aser accounts. Publicity garnering, headline making charities are where most tzedakah monies are headed. This, despite the fact, that they are not necessarily Shulchan Oruch approved or hierarchically appropriate. Indeed, kavod, as it frequently does, corrupts priorities. See Shulchan Oruch YD249:16 where funding children to learn is set as one of the two highest priorities for charity. Financial support of day schools and kal v’chomer tuition, certainly comes before summer camp, Pesach at the hotel and a brand new late model SUV in the driveway.

Help return the education of our youth into the priority it should be. In addition, I beg of you, once scholarships are granted, please honor them and pay your bill on time. People’s livelihood, peace of mind and your children’s education depend on it.

And, by the way, we actually do use the short form – it doesn’t change a thing.

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