Rabbi Ross. We’re hoping that as a Rebbe you can answer the following question. Our son’s Yeshiva is telling us to sign a paper agreeing to pay tuition even if we need to revert back to Zoom. We have two issues with this. Why should we be paying full price if we’re not getting the full service? Also, the schools must be saving money when there aren’t children in the building. Why can’t they pass off those savings to us? We could have our kids tutored remotely for a quarter of the cost! Please don’t print my name.
The two issues you asked about are really one issue. You feel, as do many others, that the Yeshivos should not be charging full tuition if we need to start learning remotely. My initial response to this question was to reply, “This is not really a parenting question.” However, since it’s chinuch-related, I’m going to try to answer the question.
The truth is, there are many reasons to follow along with what your Yeshiva requested. Before I begin, I would like to make a full disclosure. As a Rebbe in a Yeshiva, I am obviously biased in this article for a few reasons. First of all, I’m paid by a Yeshiva, and second of all, as a Rebbe, I have discounted tuition. Nonetheless I think the answer below is pretty accurate. While there have many discussions regarding the high cost of tuition in general, this article is focusing solely on the issues regarding paying for remote learning.
I’ve heard from a few people that they felt it was unfair to be paying tuition if the kids were home. It’s important that everyone understand that the Yeshivos don’t want the kids home. It makes the learning much more difficult and it causes all sorts of problems. I’ve listed a few of the main ones below.
There are many other reasons that I’m not mentioning, but I’m sure you get the idea. However, there are a few other things to keep in mind. I’m not in the loop regarding school finances and the savings regarding remote learning versus in-school. It would seem to be very minimal if at all. I’m sure that many of the savings that you mentioned are not very realistic. Are the electric bills lower? I’m sure. Does the building require cleaning? Probably not as often. These small savings are likely offset by other expenses related to the remote learning. Assuming the school saved even $15,000 (not likely), and there are 500 kids enrolled, you’re looking at a $30 refund per family.
Furthermore, many donors are unable to help as much as they would like to. This obviously puts added stress onto the administration and board members who are trying to fundraise. In any case, one of the most expensive parts about running a school is the payroll. If parents stopped paying tuition, indubitably the teachers would stop getting paid as well. Although technically that sounds fair, realistically what would happen is the top teachers (and Rebbeim) would have to look elsewhere for income. Once this virus has run its course it would be very difficult to get these teachers and Rebbeim back into the classroom. Ultimately the ones that would be losing out the most would be our children.
All this being said, if any family is having difficulties paying tuition, the schools are truly being proactive. Even in these difficult and challenging times most of these wonderful Yeshivos are going out of their way to alleviate any fears of the parents. Throughout our communities, our Yeshivos are constantly putting our children first. Let’s support them through the end of this pandemic, and IY”H straight into the coming of Moshiach.
Have a good Shabbos.
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.