From time to time the Society experiences situations where, after repeated reminders, families that have the means to pay fail to meet the obligation of what they owe in program fees. The Edmonton Jewish community strongly values Jewish education and since the school’s founding in 1912, has recognized that without these fees we could not provide our program at TT and therefore would cease to exist. Failure to pay required fees also shifts responsibility and places an extra burden on other families to cover these costs. In order to ensure a sense of fairness, we, therefore, seek ways to ensure the collection of all funds from all families
The CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) allows charitable societies that operate religious schools to issue official receipts for income tax purposes. The receipt is for the provision of religious education. This does not mean that the fees for the K-6 day-school program should be thought of as a donation. This is a special consideration the CRA makes for religious schools and is a benefit to our parents. This does not mean that fees to the Society are optional. The benefit of this is that the after-tax cost of the fees is significantly less, resulting in nearly half the total tax savings of fees paid.
Note: The fees are based on the average of first child, additional children, and Kindergarten rates. Costs are based on the current year, subject to change in Fees. (Last updated February 2nd.)
|Allocation||Portion of fees $||Percentage of fees %|
|Costs to run Alternative program:
● iTALAM proprietary program
● Siddurs, Torahs, & other specialty texts ● JS/Hebrew teaching resources, supplementary material, hands on activities
● Supplies for Jewish holidays and celebrations ● Jewish and Hebrew library resources
● Professional development
● Additional minutes to deliver program
● HLA literacy support
|Society Administration Salaries||$550||13%|
|Other Administration Costs
●Audit and legal fees
● Building costs
● Bank charges
● Memberships and licences
|Judaic Studies Coordinator||$428||10%|
|Surplus reinvested in Society
● Reinvested in building fund for future capital projects
● Strategic Initiatives
As mentioned in both the Alberta Education Act and the Alternative program handbook, parents are to expect a cost for sending their children to an alternative program.
As examples of other alternative programs charging fees:
Given the economies of scale, for our student population and donor population it is not feasible to rely solely on community donations to fund our program. Student bodies at the aforementioned schools reach up to 1,485 students compared to our 140 students. This results in costs incurred being covered by a smaller group of people, which drives up the per-student cost.
Talmud Torah fees are NOT optional. The TT society has always charged a fee for students to attend school. These fees are mandatory and not discretionary.
The Talmud Torah Society believes that no child within the Jewish community should be denied access to Jewish education due to a family’s financial needs. Through the support of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, the Integrated Bursary Program (IBP) exists to support these families. All those who apply through the IBP are assessed based on financial need and subsidies are fairly distributed. Please see the TT Society website for further information on how to apply.
Our previous Assistant Superintendent, Leona Morrison has stated: “There is no other alternative program in Edmonton Public Schools that is completely comparable to the Talmud Torah program. This said, in one other school where there is a language-based program that also has a religious component interwoven into instruction, the Society for that program also contributes funds to support staffing for specific components of the program as determined by their specific memorandum of understanding.”
Our Memorandum of Understanding with EPSB states that the religious portion of our school program cannot be funded using public money and as such we are expected to pay for that component. At TT our religious program is largely taught through JS (Judaic Studies) and HLA (Hebrew Language Arts) studies, however, it has always been Talmud Torah’s approach to view our alternative program delivery being interwoven and integrated with other subject areas including those in the secular program in order to make meaningful connections, immerse our students in their learning and build a stronger and deeper Jewish identity.
Section 19(5) of the School Act states: “If a parent enrolls a student in an alternative program, the board may charge that parent fees for the purpose of defraying all or a portion of any non-instructional costs that:
(a) may be incurred by the board in offering the alternative program, and
(b) are necessary for the delivery of the program, and
(c) are in addition to the costs incurred by the board in providing its regular education program.”
The use of the term non-instructional is somewhat ambiguous, however, examples given of fees to cover noninstructional costs in an alternative program include resources specific to the alternative program, and instructors, clergy, and teachers providing instruction for the alternative portion of the program. We have interpreted non-instructional fees as non-instructional related to the comparable program. This means that instructional costs related to the alternative program can be defrayed through fees.
This means we have the ability to charge fees to cover these extra costs. These are costs associated with our alternative program. We do not charge a Society membership fee; we charge an alternative program fee to cover the additional costs of our program. Without these fees, it would be impossible to continue to deliver our program.
This is an annual process. Through collaborative discussions with our principal, we review the needs of the school for the upcoming school year. We first ask the principal to optimize the School’s EPSB budget. This means that an annual plan is developed where 95% of EPSB funds are allocated towards staffing, while the other 5% go towards supplies, equipment, and services (SES). For the 2022/2023 school year, due to budget cutbacks, the principal received special permission to use 96% of his budget for staffing.
We then review the remaining needs of the school, taking a variety of factors into consideration, including additional costs for Judaic studies components (e.g. extra teaching minutes, curriculum development), Jewish holiday events and celebrations, and Hebrew and Judaic books and supplies, etc. We also consider other parental priorities for learning enhancements such as literacy and classroom makeup and size. It is important to note that, as a rule of thumb, based on EPSB funding models, it costs approximately 25 students per classroom to fund 1.0 FTE (full-time equivalent) teachers. Therefore, in situations when our classes are smaller than this, it requires top-up funding to prevent multiple joint classes.
The Talmud Torah School is operated in partnership between the Talmud Torah Society and the Edmonton Public School Board as an alternative program. As such, the school receives funding as per the typical EPSB funding model for a 3-year rolling average of students enrolled at the start of the school year. This funding is intended to provide the comparable program that is offered throughout all EPSB schools. The alternative program we offer is supported by fees charged to families. This covers the cost to operate the Society, top-up minutes and educational costs to EPSB to deliver the alternative program, as well as support supplies and celebrations related to our alternative program.
Talmud Torah School is an Alternative program within EPSB. “Section 21 of the School Act defines alternative programs as education programs that emphasize a particular language, culture, religion, or subject matter or use a particular teaching philosophy.”
Societies affiliated with alternative schools are encouraged to provide advice and input to school administrators, central services, and EPSB on matters related to the program as a whole. Consultation can occur in both formal and informal ways, i.e. meetings, phone calls, committee involvement, involvement with interviews, etc. Areas in which EPSB and the Society may consult include:
Under section 19 of the Education Act, Societies may also charge fees related to the delivery of their alternative programs.