Breaking News – Tom Sylvester, one of the most respected admission counselors, development officers, and private school educators west of the Mississippi, is joining the new merged Pardes/JSA school. This is like signing Babe Ruth to your little league team. I do not have the space to list his myriad accomplishments but he is a huge asset to any school and it is a feather in Jill’s cap that this is happening. Congratulations on this.
Now, back on point:
1. I donated money to Pardes because I wanted to support the Reform Jewish Day School in Phoenix. Now that Pardes, without parental input, has decided to become a pluralistic school, which I am not interested in supporting, I would like my money returned to me so that I can give it to to my Reform Congregation (which will not be becoming pluralistic). How can Pardes make that happen?
2. In the FAQ that Pardes sent home this week, it states that: The potential tuition implications of a change in campus or the school’s debt structure are unknown, though our goal is to develop a plan that ensures no dramatic tuition increases are necessary. Most people do not merge businesses or buy houses without knowing their debt structure or mortgage obligations. Why is Pardes willing to take this risk with the school?
3. What will happen if Yeladeem Gan, who holds the mortgage on the present campus and is owed $4.8 million dollars, does not agree to write off a substantial portion of the mortgage? How will Pardes survive?
4. Since Pardes is a 501c3, no longer sheltered by being part of a Synagogue, will Pardes make their financial statements public, as is required? JSA makes their financial statements public, even the mighty Jewish Federation complies with this law, so why does Pardes not make this information public? Would Pardes rather have these inquiries addressed to the IRS?
5. Since the parents were not consulted about this merger and the rush to embrace Pluralism and drop the Reform affiliation, how do we know that in six months Pardes will not decide to drop Pluralism and become a Yeshiva? How can you guarantee to a donor what their money is actually going for?
6. What Reform Rabbis are supporting this merger? Since more than 40% of the kids at Pardes are reform, I am guessing that their support for this is critical. If the reform Rabbis do not support the merger, can the school survive without the Reform base?
7. Why are no reform Rabbi’s mentioned by name in the discussions of t’fillah? I notice Rabbi Kanter is mentioned so prominently, and she was ordained as a Conservative Rabbi. Why did the Judaics department turn to Rabbi Kanter prior to talks about consolidation, as is written in your FAQ’s? Was the management of Pardes upset with the Reform t’fillah?
8. In 2009, JSA merged with King David, moved to the JSA Campus, and both schools went out of business before the year was out, losing enrollment of 200 tuition paying students. You are following on their heels within a year of that merger disaster. What are you doing differently? Do you even know if you are doing anything differently?
9. As a courtesy to parents who do not share your vision of Pluralism, will parents be given their deposits back and released form their contracts?
10. If this merger does not according go to plan because of the inherent difficulties in creating a pluralistic school and the unwillingness of Yeladeem Gan to be made a fool of, do you have a plan B?
11. There is tremendous talk of how willing the Federation of Phoenix is to work with Pardes/JSA and allow Pardes/JSA to use their facilities, but times are very bad for health club businesses like the Federation. What will happen if the Federation continues to operate their fitness enterprise at a loss and is forced to sell their fitness holdings to focus on their core competency (I have no idea what that is and would like some guidance on that if you know)? Will the JSA campus, without these athletic facilities, still be a good idea?
Answers coming Tuesday.