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Jewish high school in Vaughan set to close

Students at TanenbaumCHAT north campus are not giving up without a fight
April 10, 2017
Courtney Greenberg
A petition started by a student has garnered hundreds of signatures in an effort to save a private Jewish high school in Vaughan. But the TanenbaumCHAT Kimel Family Education Centre (TCK), located at 9600 Bathurst St., is still set to close on June 23 due to low enrolment.

On March 6, the school’s board of directors announced to students, staff and parents that, as a result of the closure, the north campus would be merging with TCK’s Wallenberg south campus in North York.

“The effect of low enrolment is twofold. Number one is a financial effect: that is just you don’t have the revenue, you can’t support it. Number two is the viability of the program,” said president of the school’s board of directors Ray Rubin.

Students and teachers said they felt the decision was made too hastily and without their consideration.

“Until [the announcement], nobody even knew who was on the board, so it shows they didn’t communicate with the school at all,” said Grade 11 student Mai Benaharon.

“I live right next to [TCK], so it’s going to be a really big commute getting down there [to the other campus],” added Benaharon.

This year, 386 students from Grades 9 to 12 who live north of Steeles Avenue were enrolled at TCK. More than a hundred of those students are set to graduate in June. For the following school year, around 315 TCK students who live north of Steeles Avenue are expected to be enrolled at the Wallenberg campus.

The tuition will drop from the current $27,300 to $18,000 in 2017-2018 after two major donations were made to the school.

“We actually feel overall it’s a positive decision,” said Rubin, adding that the plan to have the community buy down the cost of a Jewish day school is an “innovative way to make Jewish education more accessible.”

However, Benaharon’s mother, Michelle, said, despite the lower tuition next year, families like hers have been making sacrifices to give their children a Jewish education.

“The fact that [the school] moved south and finally somebody subsidized it a little bit, locked the tuition for five years … where were you 10 years ago?”

Rubin said the decision to close the school is final despite students’ efforts of starting a petition trying to save TCK’s north campus.