Why Is this Important?
Jewish day schools are powerful instruments for transmitting Jewish knowledge, skills and capacity. They build lasting Jewish friendships and relationships among the students, between students and faculty, and among parents, siblings, grandparents and others. Day schools serve as recruiting grounds and on-ramps for other Jewish educational experiences, including camps, youth groups, and Israel travel.
There are 14 UJA-funded day schools in Greater Toronto. Half of these are Orthodox in sponsorship and the other half a combination of non-denominational, Conservative and Reform sponsors. Additional day schools, primarily Haredi in orientation, do not receive UJA funding.
The day school system in Greater Toronto educates nearly 30% of all Jewish children, or more than 9,400 children out of approximately 32,000 Jewish children between the ages of 4 and 18. This is a relatively high number compared to other North American communities.
What Are the Trends?
In 2015, we find a total of 7,046 students enrolled in UJA-funded Jewish day schools, a decline of 192 students from the previous year when 7,238 were enrolled. The decline is primarily located among those enrolled in the high school years.
Full tuition and the actual average payment collected rose about 3 to 4% from 2014 to 2015. In 2015, the average payment collected stood at $11,859 in the elementary schools and $22,290 in the high schools.
Further downward pressure on enrollments may well eventuate from declining numbers of Jewish children in the younger years and increasing cost of tuition. Of those 14-17, we find 2,440 such children per birth cohort. In comparison, among those 6-10, we find an average of only 2,168, a shrinkage of 11% from the teenage years. In other words, on average, we find about 1.5% fewer Jewish children from one year to the next.
How Are We Doing?
These figures point to growing challenges to the day school sector: fewer children in the possible demographic pool, declining enrollments and rising tuitions. The trends demand the attention of policy makers, philanthropists, families and, of course, the schools themselves.
For the metrics reported here, we are grateful for the cooperation of the 14 UJA-funded day schools, specifically:
Associated Hebrew Schools, Beth Jacob High School, Bialik Hebrew Day School, Bnei Akiva Schools, Eitz Chaim School, The Joe Dwek Ohr HaEmet Sephardic School, The Leo Baeck Day School, Netivot HaTorah, Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School, Robbins Hebrew Academy, Tanenbaum CHAT, Tiferes Bais Yaakov, The Toronto Heschel School, and Yeshiva Darchei Torah.