WINNIPEG – Ido Raam is an Israeli-born Winnipeg businessman who provides work for new Jewish immigrants. He is a proud supporter of Israel and an IDF veteran. He supports Chabad. And he believes strongly in providing a Jewish education for his four young children.
Therefore, he is quite disappointed that the Winnipeg Jewish Board of Education (WBJE) is taking him to court for refusing to pay what he considers an arbitrary tuition increase, and that his children were not allowed to attend Gray Academy, Winnipeg’s only Jewish elementary and high school.
While the WBJE has a fixed tuition rate, the fee is scaled down for less affluent families based on their earnings. It also offers reduced tuition for children who have a sibling enrolled in Gray Academy, as well as bursaries for low-income students.
The Raam children – aged two, four, six and eight – did receive some subsidies and, according to a statement of claim filed in court, the Raams paid $6,000 last January of the roughly $13,000 they were billed after bursaries.
In their statement of defence, Ido and his wife, Rochelle Raam, state that they “do not recall reading, let alone signing, any agreement with the plaintiff nor were they ever provided with a copy of any such a document.”
They added that they “were under the impression that the cost of tuition would be entirely covered by bursaries offered by the school, due to their difficult financial circumstances.”
According to Ido Raam, the day before school was to start in September, the head of school approached him and told him that if he didn’t pay up immediately, his children would not be allowed to attend the school. “She said to me that I live in a nice neighbourhood and have a nice car and can afford to pay more,” Raam said. “I offered partial payment, but she turned me down.”
David Borzykowski, the school’s director of marketing and communications, told The CJN that the school is “unable to comment upon the details of this matter, as the case is currently before the courts.”
He did say that the WBJE “has standard (tuition) agreements that are provided to all parents prior to enrolling their children in the school and prior to making any financial commitment to Gray Academy of Jewish Education. The WBJE also offers a needs-based bursary program for families who require financial assistance. The WBJE works with families to determine the level of financial assistance that can be provided in any given year. This process involves open communication between the WBJE and those families who have applied for a bursary.
“To receive this bursary, families must qualify and comply with the terms of the program. These include terms and conditions for overdue accounts, dishonoured payments and outstanding balances. That being said, the WBJE works very closely with parents and understands that occasionally, families may need additional time to complete payment for their parental contribution in a given school year. The WBJE’s process to collect outstanding balances contains numerous safeguards and graduated steps, which ensures that formal legal proceedings are only initiated as an absolute last resort.”
The Raam children are now attending the Brock Corydon Elementary Public School Hebrew Bilingual program. (Manitoba has the only public school Hebrew bilingual program in Canada.)
No date has yet been set for the court case.