A Jewish day school in Minneapolis is taking the prep school price out of its tuition and is offering to pay parents $5,000 tuition vouchers if they switch their children from a public school to Torah Academy.
The school’s dean, Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg, announced his idea of offering tuition incentives to make the school more affordable last month.
Torah Academy’s $7,500 average tuition can deter parents from considering the school, he said. After the $5,000 is awarded the first year a child transfers out of a public school and enrolls in the academy, his or her family will receive $1,000 less, until the assistance runs out.
Torah Academy, which serves 227 students in prekindergarten through 8th grade, began the incentive to draw in more students and support its mission of keeping Jewish children connected to Jewish culture, said the school’s executive director, Rabbi Joshua L. Borenstein.
Even without the new incentive, enrollment at the academy has been increasing by about 5 percent each year, Rabbi Borenstein said. “If we can get five, 10, 15 Jewish kids to try Jewish education,” he said, “that alone is worthwhile.”
Nationally, tuition at Jewish schools depends on the region where they are located, and how much schools bring in through fund raising, said Steven Kraus, the director of education initiatives at the Jewish Education Service of North America, a New York City-based advocacy group for Jewish education.
“Eighty percent of the costs [of tuition] are for salary,” he noted.
According to the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s 2004 population survey, 35,300 Jews live in the city.
Ten to 12 families have expressed interest in Torah Academy since the school announced the incentive in March, Rabbi Borenstein said.
The offer is for Jewish families only, as the school dedicates four hours each day to religious study. The remaining four hours of the school day focus on secular academic subjects.
The academy has not placed a cap on how many families will be offered the $5,000, Rabbi Borenstein said.