Much of my time is being spent “in the trenches” helping Jewish day schools develop active strategies to increase their sustainability. Our team is immersed in the intense but satisfying and productive work of analyzing nearly 40 schools’ comparative revenue and spending patterns (using financial “benchmarking”) comparing them to their peers, and helping them develop and implement plans to generate more revenue and reduce expenses – without reducing quality of education. This work is generously supported by The AVI CHAI Foundation and local Federations and Foundations in the communities of Bergen County, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago and Cleveland. With the schools in question we are working collaboratively towards a $22 million financial improvement and to date have helped schools raise and save millions of dollars toward the goal.
But our equally important agenda is to figure out how to leverage community power in these five communities to increase revenue and efficiencies – in instances where (a) economies of scale can yield extra leverage or (b) where individual schools lack the expertise or staff or financial capacity to fully capitalize on major opportunities. An example of (a) would be joint purchasing or multi institutional outsourcing. An example of (b) would be developing the capacity of a group of schools for a blended (classroom and online learning) program. Such an effort would benefit from funds for curriculum development (e.g., to provide release time and/or stipends for staff), professional development funding to help current faculty develop the skills to master blended learning, and expert consulting support to help guide the transition to the new teaching modality.
Here are 5 hot ideas emerging from our work that we would recommend your community consider:
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