Day schools leaving state funds on table
Orthodox Union says deadline is nearing for nonsectarian aid
Advocates for Jewish education are concerned that 34 of New Jersey’s 130 Jewish day schools may miss a deadline to apply for new state funding.
The 34 day schools and yeshivas are among 394 non-public schools that missed a Dec. 12 deadline for nonsectarian aid from the State Department of Education.
The funds — approximately $150 per student — are earmarked for non-religious programs, including classroom computers, nurses, special needs education, and secular textbooks.
Although the state’s preliminary deadline was Dec. 12, 2013, it has given the schools an extension until Feb. 12.
Maury Litwack, advocacy director of state political affairs and outreach for the Orthodox Union, is urging schools to apply.
“One of the most important strategies to reducing tuition is taking advantage of all the government services available, yet many schools either do not access these services at all or do not maximize the funding available to them,” Litwack said in a news release. “In many cases, schools do not realize they are leaving money — potentially millions of dollars — on the table.”
Jacob Toporek, executive director of the State Association of Jewish Federations, said he recently sent out a reminder from the Department of Education to the day schools.
“The day schools know they need to renew, and the message goes out over and over again,” he said. “But year in and year out, some new day schools may not know about the available funds, and some old ones don’t renew their applications, and still others don’t fill the applications out.”
Although the list of schools that have not applied is considered confidential, an NJJN canvass of Jewish day schools in the Greater MetroWest catchment area found that all had filed applications in a timely manner.
“We are not one of those schools,” wrote Julia Malaga, chief financial officer at the Golda Och Academy in West Orange, in an e-mail to NJJN.
“We have been applying for this for years. Everyone here is totally on top of this,” said Steven Karp, executive director of the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth. “We are not just applying for funds; we are in the forefront of fighting for them.”
“Of course we apply,” said Moshe Vaknin, head of the Nathan Bohrer-Abraham Kaufman Hebrew Academy of Morris County in Randolph. “We get money for textbooks, we get money for computers, we get money for special needs. There are all kinds of deadlines.”
Richard Vespucci, spokesperson for the State Department of Education, said, “We encourage all schools that have not yet filed their enrollment reports to do so when they receive notice of the final deadline.”
All three day schools are beneficiary agencies of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.