This morning’s meeting at Pardes centered around a very thoughtful discussion about the academic curriculum, the religious curriculum, and what, if any changes will be made concerning the religious curriculum. The meeting could not have been more different the meeting at JSA. There were discussions at the meeting that I found personally uncomfortable, but those moments involved the desire of some of the JSA parents to have the religious training at the school be at the 100% level (and I will admit I am a very secular Jew and I have no idea what that even means) yet consenting to being willing to allow for the fact that they would not be able to control how people practiced Judaism in their own homes. This profound respect for allowing people to practice their religion in their own homes seems to be a very nice concession.
There were also some very thoughtful comments from JSA parents who stated that they respected the fact that the Pardes educational team really proved that they knew how to run a school and that they, as JSA parents, believed it was time for the community to come together and support the community day school and Pardes’ school leadership.
Later in the day, I had two discussions with two of Pardes’ Board Members and I agreed to not divulge what they told me. In these discussion, I learned things that I found comforting and a few things that I am not sure about. However, I do believe the board is doing the due diligence necessary to figure out whether or not the combination of the two schools will actually work. This brings up another point that I divined from a remark that Jill Kessler made at today’s meeting. Jill mentioned that the reason that the name of the school is being called Pardes JSA Community Day School is that for now, the schools are still two separate entities and that Sam Coppersmith, Esq. is handling the details of the merger. I think this is an important distinction that belies what we were told by Mr. Ginsberg. The merger is not finalized. What is finalized is the intention to merge, and that is a material difference.
I expressed to the two board members with whom I spoke that I believe that the Board of Pardes does both the Pardes parent community and the JSA parent community a tremendous disservice by operating in secrecy. I reiterated that the manner in which Mr. Ginsburg started the first meeting, with an admonition against publicly expressing dissent, simply raises more eyebrows, increases suspicion, and makes everyone more apprehensive, not less. I think that the board should come to the realization that we are not children, that we will be able to understand the issues that led them to commit to attempt this combination. Certainly, if they have information that will allay the fear that the school will run out of money because they will be straddling two mortgages and two campuses, and i they can assure us that Pardes’ sound educational and financial management team will be running the new entity, then they should do that, and do it promptly. The concept that this is a merger, that a school that has 42 kids is merging with a school that has 270 is something that really needs to be explained, because it simply can not be a merger of equals, unless those 42 kids will be paying the same aggregate tuition as the 270 Pardes students. We all need to know the definition of the word “merger”. I think we are all adult enough to understand these things and i think it will help Pardes, not hurt Pardes if we learn the truth.