Home News Canada Leo Baeck and Tanenbaum CHAT to share space

Leo Baeck and Tanenbaum CHAT to share space

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Leo Baeck day school
Leo Baeck day school

In an unprecedented move for Toronto, a Jewish elementary school and a Jewish high school will begin sharing space next fall in an attempt to shore up both schools’ declining enrolments.

Starting in September, the northern branch of the Leo Baeck Day School will begin sharing space with Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto’s Kimel Centre, on the Lebovic Jewish Community Campus.

The move will see the Reform day school close its building on Atkinson Avenue and move the 267 students farther north. Leo Baeck head of school Eric Petersiel said enrolment had been dropping at the northern branch of the school, in part because families live closer to the Lebovic campus. “Our people are moving north. The Jewish population of non-Orthodox families doesn’t live south of [Highway] 7,” he said.

READ: ZAREINU TO MOVE INTO LEO BAECK’S THORNHILL CLASSROOMS

The move also fits into TanenbaumCHAT’s sustainability plan, which includes sharing its facilities with other Jewish institutions, said Tanenbaum CHAT head of school, Rabbi Lee Buckman. The city’s only pluralistic Jewish high school has also seen its enrolment decline over the last few years. Currently 966 students are enrolled in both campuses, with 585 students on the south campus and 381 students on the north campus.

“It’s a very smart use of the community’s resources. We have lots of day schools and lots of buildings… and to the extent we can collaborate, co-operate, share resources and find efficiencies, we’re using the community’s resources much more wisely,” Rabbi Buckman said.

The move is a “win-win” for both schools, he said.

Leo Baeck will have a separate entrance and operate in its own wing, but will share facilities such as the gym, library, science, arts and music rooms, Petersiel said. A new fenced-in playground for the school will also be built.

The adjacent Schwartz-Reisman Centre will provide before- and after-school care.

Having a feeder school share Tanenbaum CHAT’s facilities will help with another point in the high school’s strategic plan – to intensify recruitment of new students.

“To have a feeder school [at CHAT] will help maximize the likelihood those kids will stay in the day school system,” Rabbi Buckman said.

The multi-year agreement will save the school system “a significant amount of money,” as expenses related to the physical plant, such as security and cleaning, will be shared, said Daniel Held, executive director of UJA Federations’s Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education.

There is also a potential for sharing staff expenses, he said.

READ: WE MUST MAKE DAY SCHOOL AFFORDABLE FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

Leo Baeck’s 60,000-square-foot building on Atkinson will eventually be sold.The move will make the Lebovic campus a Jewish hub for York Region, with Bialik Day School already located there, as well as synagogues and supplementary schools, Held said. 

  • One issue remains to be settled….feeder school? It’s not like the public school system. Enrollment declines as tuition goes up.

  • Yoram Weinreich

    I dont undetstand how the Jewish community leadership and the CJN do not cast a harsh light on the reality of the sustainability of the hebrew school system in Toronto. With price increases taking tuition at day schools from $6000 15 years ago to $17,000 today and CHAT closing in on $30,000.. these schools have become schools for the very rich and the very subsidized. These consistent price increases will lead to the death of the Jewish school system in Toronto.

    • Keezster

      Part of the problem, Yor, is that some people don’t truly understand what’s happening and continue to try and stop the flood with a finger in the dam rather than resolve the root problems intrinsic to the current education model. Times have changed dramatically, and the current private education system can’t seem to figure out how to change with it in order to keep enrolment and education flowing at the level it used to.

    • mycroft

      It was my impression from a while back – when the Maple Leafs were winning Stanley Cups that Canadian Day School tuition was much less than American tuition. If Yoram’s figures are accurate sadly Canada might be following the American model and making Judaism accessible only to the upper middle class and above.
      An issue which I believe has been ignored in North America.

  • Keezster

    Combining an elementary and high school into one building isn’t unprecedented…I recall being in the ‘Associated’ building on Neptune while I was in junior high and I knew people attending high school in the same building (my memory may be fuzzy after all these years, but I’m pretty sure that was the case). In fact, my CHAT graduating year (1983) was the first to attend the full 4 years of high school in a ‘new’ building on Wilmington, — which, btw, shared space with an elementary public school until they purchased the entire building a few years later.

    • mycroft

      When CHAT started in the very early 60s not only did they share a building with Associated. !They also shared principals with Associated Junior High. Teachers both secular and Jewish taught in both.. It was simply, that community only wanted to subsidize one HS and picked the Associated over Etz Chaim. Coincidentally or not Ner Israel started during same period as CHAT

  • Yoram Weinreich

    Listen guys.. the reality is that Hebrew Schools in Toronto are on a Death Spiral.. and the leadership of the Jewish Community are sleeping. Lower enrollment leads to higher prices which leads to lower enrollment. The simple fact that the Federation (which no longer has a School Board) is not creating a Council of Toronto Jewish Leaders to address this problem – get costs and tuition back under control, fundraise and brainstorm – is shameful. This situation was many years coming and was blatant and obvious. It is a shame.

    • luffjac

      The same in Ottawa is happening but no one is listening. Already the high school closed. Tuition is getting out of control and there is no board of Jewish education to monitor quality.