Eitz Chaim Schools has agreed to the conditional sale of its Patricia campus in Toronto to the Toronto Cheder, the two schools announced in a letter to parents on Oct. 22.
Earlier this year, Eitz Chaim decided to sell its boys school on Patricia Avenue – located on Bathurst Street, halfway between Finch and Steeles avenues – as a cost-cutting measure.
“The Cheder’s bid and commitment to the sale emerged as the best option for both parties, and we look forward to seeing the sale through to close,” Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz, Eitz Chaim’s head of school, and Rabbi Dovid Engel, menahel of the Toronto Cheder, said in a joint letter.
The Toronto Cheder is currently housed in a building on Bathurst Street, north of Wilson Avenue.
Rabbi Schwartz previously said that Eitz Chaim has a $4-million operating deficit and that closing the Patricia campus will cut its deficit by one-third. Tuition covers less than half of the school’s education costs and 65 per cent of families receive some level of tuition subsidy, according to the school’s website.
Adina Abramov, COO of Eitz Chaim, said it was premature to discuss the selling price, but said the sale “will put us on solid ground.”
Eitz Chaim, which has an enrolment of about 800 students, has been examining ways to cut costs and streamline operations. The school plans to move 300 boys in grades 2 to 8 from the Patricia site, to its Spring Farm Campus in Thornhill, Ont. (which is currently the girls’ campus). However, Eitz Chaim is also considering leasing back the Patricia site for a year, while the Spring Farm campus is being readied for the boys, Abramov said. A decision on the leaseback will be made by early spring, she added.
Meanwhile, plans are underway for the school’s two girls’ campuses to merge into the Viewmount location on Bathurst Street, just south of Lawrence Avenue, for the 2019-20 school year.
A number of joint programs for parents and students at the two girls’ campuses are underway, so they can get to know each other, Abramov said. “It’s a full calendar year of collaboration.”
Early childhood centres for children in nursery to Grade 1 will be offered at both locations. Boys and girls will be in separate classes for Grade 1.
Eitz Chaim was the last day school to operate three branches in Toronto, but it was finding that its students lived closer to either the Thornhill or the Viewmount campus and not near the Patricia site, Abramov said.
The Toronto Cheder’s offer was the best one, but the board was glad to sell the school to another Orthodox institution, she said.
“We’re very pleased the property will remain a centre of Torah learning,” said Abramov. “Both schools are committed to each other’s viability. This was the best scenario anyone could have envisioned.”
Abramov said that she and Rabbi Schwartz have been holding “kitchen table meetings” with parents, to discuss the consolidation. The top concern, she said, is transportation.
The school has said it plans to subsidize busing for students travelling from other neighbourhoods.
Rabbi Engel, from the Toronto Cheder, said he could not comment on the sale while it is still conditional.