Third Jewish day school up for sale
Thornhill’s Kamin Education Centre to relocate
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