Open Door Program
Open Door FAQ
What is Open Door?
Open Door is an initiative that aims to lower tuition in all grades to around 50 percent of what it is now. In this first year of Open Door, the program will be in grades Kindergarten and 9th. Students in those grades will have half price tuition. Open Door is a key component of the Our Family is One campaign.
For how long will students receive half price tuition?
Families with children in grades kindergarten and ninth will receive a 50 percent tuition reduction for 4 years as those students matriculate into higher grades. While tuition is reduced, the value of an SDJA education will remain exactly what it is today, at $28K.
How is Open Door funded?
To support this bold program, a generous donor is providing the funding to enable SDJA to pilot this program in grades Kindergarten and 9th. Open Door is a part of the $15 million Our Family is One Campaign, but Open Door already is entirely funded.
When does Open Door start?
Open Door begins in October 2018 for the 2019/2020 school year in grades Kindergarten and 9th.
How did SDJA develop this program and why did the school choose to start with grades Kindergarten and ninth?
SDJA leadership conducted significant research to understand what type of program would have the biggest impact for families and for the entire school community. SDJA contracted Fisheye Research to learn about the number of families in the area who might consider Jewish Day School at certain price points. According to their data, more than 1,100 Jewish families with children in key target markets would consider SDJA with tuition between $10,000 – $15,000. Kindergarten and 9th grade are important transitional grades, as determined by the consultants we retained who developed this strategic approach.
Why are families in Open Door asked to donate savings back to SDJA?
In order to continue to support and expand this program to all grades, SDJA is asking each family who is willing and capable to then donate that savings (which may be tax deductible) back to the open door program at the maximum amount they are capable of contributing. As we see how many more students join the school in 2019/2020, and to what extent families are willing to contribute the savings to SDJA, we will gain a deep understanding of Open Door’s level of success in growing our school community for the long-term.
What if a parent does not have the means to make a donation?
There is no requirement to make an Open Door contribution. SDJA simply is asking parents to do so if they are able.
Why is SDJA launching Open Door?
Our vision is that current tuition is cut in half for all grades, removing cost as a barrier for a world-class private Jewish day school education. This plan pilots this approach in two grades, and then expands to all grades as enrollment targets are met. We feel now is the time to do something bold and innovative, and have donor support that makes this possible.
Isn’t this unfair to parents who have supported this school for a long time but don’t have kids in Kindergarten or ninth?
We understand why it seems unfair initially. But it is important to remember that the Open Door program is part of an Affordability Initiative in Our Family is One that aims to lower tuition in all grades to around 50 percent of what it is now. 2019/2020 simply is the first year. And, the Affordability Initiative already creates more tuition assistance opportunities at every grade for families. Specifically, SDJA’s tuition assistance budget was increased by 25% for the current school year, thanks to Our Family is One, and will continue to increase to even higher levels over the next five years. By meeting with a family who asks about tuition assistance, by creating tangible improvements to the school program, and by implementing the reduced tuition plan, we are able to ensure every family in every class benefits.
When will all families get half price tuition?
That depends on how many families enroll in kindergarten and 9th grade during the first year, and how many of those families make an Open Door contribution. We’ll be better positioned to answer this question after the 2019/2020 school year.
What’s the end game of all of this?
SDJA wants to offer the best, most innovative educational experience for students in a welcoming and inclusive Jewish community. SDJA has researched the optimal cost that works for families in our area so more families can be a part of SDJA. The entire Our Family is One campaign and Affordability Initiative enables SDJA to offer competitive academic advantages and every current and prospective family has the opportunity for significantly reduced tuition.
Is the school in a bad financial situation?
No. Just the opposite. SDJA is in a strong financial position, with a 56 acre debt-free campus, strong partnerships, and stable enrollment. But we have listened to what our parents and larger community are telling us, and we are not sitting still. We are looking to continue as a world-class private school, while also being innovative and entrepreneurial in our approach. Growing enrollment and continuously improving the school/learning experience are essential to making the school sustainable. We are willing to be bold and change the status quo on both fronts. That’s what Open Door is about.