Third Jewish day school up for sale

Thorn­hill’s Kamin Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre to re­lo­cate

Thornhill Post - - News - by Jessica Wei

As­so­ci­ated He­brew Schools (AHS) has an­nounced plans to sell the build­ing that cur­rently houses its Kamin branch, lo­cated on Atkin­son Av­enue. The AHS board of di­rec­tors will make a de­ci­sion in the next four months to ei­ther rent space from the new owner of the cur­rent build­ing, rent space nearby or re­lo­cate fur­ther north.

This de­ci­sion comes fol­low­ing a steep de­cline in en­rol­ment num­bers. The build­ing has a ca­pac­ity of 800 stu­dents. Cur­rently it houses 320 stu­dents from JK and Grade 8, a drop from 400 last year.

“The is­sue of a down­ward en­rol­ment trend has been in York Re­gion with all the schools for about 10 years,” said Rabbi Mark Smi­ley, the head of school for AHS. “The en­rol­ment pro­jec­tions for the com­ing years made it clear to us that the fi­nan­cial losses that the school would take would make it un­wise to not sell the school.”

The Kamin branch is the third Jewish day school to re­lo­cate from York Re­gion in the past six months: In March, Ta­nen­baum Com­mu­nity He­brew Acad­emy of Toronto (Ta­nen­baumCHAT) re­ported that it was clos­ing its Vaughan branch, and four months prior, Leo Baeck Day School an­nounced it was sell­ing its Thorn­hill cam­pus. Smi­ley at­tributes this trend to in­creased hous­ing prices, high tu­ition and the avail­abil­ity of qual­ity pub­lic schools in the area.

“At $16,000 to $17,000 [per stu­dent], we are learn­ing that in the As­so­ci­ated [AHS] com­mu­nity and the other CHAT feeder schools that we’ve hit a price point where peo­ple are go­ing to great pub­lic schools and have good part-time Jewish ed­u­ca­tional op­tions,” said Smi­ley.

Sidura Lud­wig, a par­ent of three stu­dents at AHS, agrees.

“If you look at a young fam­ily that has moved into York Re­gion in the last five years, they’re prob­a­bly start­ing off their fam­i­lies with a lot more stu­dent debt,” said Lud­wig. “There are so many fac­tors that will make con­sid­er­ing tu­ition of $16,000 a year for one child, never mind your se­cond or third, a non­starter.”

Both Smi­ley and Lud­wig are hop­ing for fi­nan­cial sup­port from the com­mu­nity, sim­i­lar to the $15 mil­lion do­na­tion given to Ta­nen­baumCHAT ear­lier this year that al­lowed a sig­nif­i­cant tu­ition de­crease for the stu­dents. In the mean­time, the AHS board of di­rec­tors is in dia­logue with par­ents about the next course of ac­tion and to of­fer sup­port.

“I’m much more con­cerned on a greater com­mu­nity level that this is just one more chapter in this year’s story on the state of Jewish ed­u­ca­tion in York Re­gion,” said Lud­wig.

As­so­ci­ated He­brew Schools’ Kamin branch will soon be up for sale

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