By JANICE ARNOLD, Canadian Jewish News
MONTREAL — The 68-year-old Rabbinical College of Canada (RCC), the Lubavitcher yeshiva, has launched an “emergency” campaign because it is facing a financial crisis.
The school delayed payment of salaries to its approximately 60 teachers as a result of its cash-flow problems, administrator Linda Rosenblum acknowledged.
She said $600,000 is needed to get out of the current crunch.
A combination of factors explains the school’s situation, including the economic downturn, Rosenblum said. Some of the RCC’s traditional supporters have curtailed their donations.
But a turning point was the addition of a third floor two years ago to accommodate growing enrolment.
A million-dollar gift was received for the project, but construction ultimately cost $2.5 million, she said, and the school took out a mortgage.
The extra space has meant more staff and greater overhead, such as for heating and electricity, she pointed out.
The school has seen a steady rise in the number of students because the Lubavitch community has a high birthrate and, despite the expansion, the school is still short of space.
It now serves close to 400 boys from pre-kindergarten through high school.
Higher enrolment, however, doesn’t mean higher revenue. The contrary is true, she said.
The school accepts all students, regardless of their families’ ability to pay, and most are not paying full tuition.
“This is a poor community, with one parent and sometimes, unfortunately, no parent working,” she said.
The current annual tuition fee is $5,200, but the average amount families pay is between $2,000 and $3,000, she said. The cost of educating a child is about $8,000 a year.
Rosenblum said response to the appeal for funds has so far been tepid.
“We’ve had some phone calls, and people have sent small cheques, but that is not going to solve the problem.”
As for meeting the payroll, Rosenblum said last week, “We’re working on it… These things happen sometimes, but we have never not paid our teachers.”
The RCC was founded in 1941 by the late Rabbi Leib Kramer, who fled Poland for Shanghai and then Japan, and brought with him to Canada nine of his students.
The school has been located on its current site on Westbury Avenue since the early 1960s.