[To Mr. Hershel Lieber, President Bais Yaakov of Boro Park]
Dear Mr. Lieber,
In a public letter published in the Rosh Hashanah edition of Mishpacha family magazine, you described the school’s dire financial situation in response to an article that led some to believe the crisis had passed. In the letter, you made it clear that the situation has not improved, and that the school is still buckling under a huge burden of an over $3 million debt, and over 2/3rds of that figure is owed to teachers and staff.
While your letter certainly gave us a glimpse into the often closed financial records of our children’s schools, I as a parent of 3 children in Bais Yaakov, am left with more questions than answers.
You stated, “One does not have to be an accountant to realize that we are running a huge deficit that is growing at a rate of at least a half a million dollars a year.”
The question that everyone reading this letter will ask is, why are you running such a deep deficit? According to your own statement, your average monthly payroll is $450,000. Here is a short (and highly simplified) possible budget statement for your school on an annual basis:
|Mortgage (assuming a $12,000,000 note)||$1,000,000|
The total expenditures for your school should not exceed $8,000,000 annually.
Now, with regards to income, here are the figures. Bais Yaakov has approximately 2,000 students. If the average tuition paid per student was a rock-bottom $4,000, that alone equals $8,000,000. Many parents pay much more than that. Plus, there is income generated from the summer day camp, Day Care program, Headstart, and other government funding. Without being an accountant, I would estimate the income of the school should be approaching $10 million annually.
As a parent in Bais Yaakov, I know that delinquency in tuition payment is not tolerated. If a parent is consistently late in paying their tuition, their children are not allowed back into class during specific periods of the year. This is strictly enforced. At the beginning of every school year, admission cards are sent only to those who have a $0 balance from the previous year. Without an admission card, students are NOT allowed into class for the new year.
As parents, we have the right to know and understand why our daughters’ school is failing financially. We understand that boys’ schools have much higher payroll expenses and the tuition cannot be expected to cover the full cost in most circumstances. Girls’ schools are by and large expected to cover their budgets through tuition. There is not much sympathy amongst ba’alei tzedaka to donate towards the operating costs of a girls’ school.
Mr. Lieber, your letter was an eye-opener for us, but probably not in the way you intended. You gave us a taste of what is going on, but not the full picture. As parents, we are key stakeholders in the school’s future existence, and we demand a better explanation as to what is going on. Financial incompetence cannot and should not be tolerated in any institution, much less the school where we entrust our daughters’ chinuch.
A parent of 3 children in Bais Yaakov