Shalom, and much nachas to you and yours. As our 5775 school year draws to a close, we hope that you, as we, are finding a lot to kvell about. With intellectual vigor and keen curiosity our students have been exploring the contours of a Jewish faith that is inclusive, deeply rooted in tradition, and relevant to the unique struggles and joys of their daily 21st century lives. Their efforts – and those of their instructors -- speak well for Temple Beth Israel’s future, as well as the future of Judaism on L.A.’s historic Eastside. For so many of our kids, religious school is no solemn obligation, but has indeed become a joyous experience they look forward to every Sunday.
Next year, we are expanding the scope of the school to serve its growing student body, and we’d like to take this opportunity to share with you what’s in store. We also want to share with you why there will be an increase in tuition. As we’ve striven to cut costs, that increase will be necessary if the school is going to remain as financially sustainable as it is spiritually sustainable.
Here are some of the vital changes and improvements we’ll be seeing for 5776:
Currently, students of varying ages are taught in combined classes. By hiring new faculty, we will now have enough instructors to teach 5th grade classes at the 5th grade level, or 3rd graders at the 3rd grade level and so on – so that students can more effectively learn at their school-age level.
A new “Pre-K” program for 2-3 year olds – familiarizing them with the cadences of prayer and the beauty of Jewish tradition;
Establishment of lower and higher schools at two campuses. Pre-K through Kitah grades (Ages 2-10) classes will take place at Celebration Kids in nearby Padadena, which has ten fully equipped classrooms;
The B’Nei Mitzvah school will reside exclusively at the Shul itself, allowing for more intense and focused study, and bringing students nearer to the bima where they will become Bar and Bat Mitzvah;
Increased enrichment and learning events throughout, from field trips to rap sessions to community outreach to ambitious works of tzedakah.
TBI has always been a community shul, with an abiding spirit of inclusion. Our yearly dues remain a fraction of what other L.A. synagogues set for their congregations, which routinely subsidize education from dues income. Tuition for our religious school has also been kept low. One of the paradoxes of the astounding growth our temple and our school have experienced these past five years is that as more families have strengthened our congregation, the financial stresses have correspondingly grown. Unlike large congregations on the Westside, we have no endowment to draw upon – no studio heads or real estate moguls to appeal to in time of need. We have only the resolve and determination of the scrappy Eastside Jewish community we proudly serve, and, despite times that have been tough these last few years, the commitment of families like yours to invest in Jewish learning for the next generation.
So here’s what we’re looking at:
The registration fee for 5776 is $150.00 per student. This fee will just about cover the administrative expenses for enrollment and lesson preparation. We are offering a substantial early registration and referral discounts. The fee can be reduced to $100 if you register by May 31st, $125 if you register by June 30th, and can be reduced an additional $50 if you refer another student who enrolls in the program.
The materials fee for 5776 is $200.00 per student. This fee covers the purchase of books, audio-visual, arts and other educational materials used during the year, and is based on the actual cost of materials.
The tuition for 5776 is $975.00 per student. Families with more than one student in the program are eligible for a $125.00 per student discount for additional students to reduce the financial burden on larger families. The tuition rate is based on the actual fixed cost to operate the school as established in this year’s budget.
TBI does offer additional need-based financial aid on a case-by-case basis to ensure that each student has every opportunity to participate in the school, regardless of financial circumstances. Although financial aid is by necessity based on availability of funds, we will make every effort in our power to ensure that any student who desires an education can get one.
We look forward to seeing you next year, and as always, if you have any questions or concerns, we are here to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us with anything you need!
Rabbi Arielle Hanien