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Bucks Families Start Hunt for New Schools

April 27, 2006 By:
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The Bucks County branch of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Jewish Day School is to be shuttered after six years of operation. Photo by Joanna Lightner
After the board of directors at the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Jewish Day School voted last month to consolidate its Bucks County branch with the Forman Center in Elkins Park, 33 young people were left wondering where they will go to school next year.

So far, 10 families have committed to sending their children to Forman, according to Stuart Appel, president of Perelman's board of directors. He also said that between six and eight other families have made plans to visit the school, and that the deadline for enrollment is April 28.

"Everyone who has come has been extremely impressed," stated Appel. "The children love the fields and the whole environment."

One parent who has chosen the Forman Center is Dr. Heidi Gordon, who's husband, Jeff, was the only board member to vote against the resolution to close the Bucks branch.

"I had reservations about sending him because I am so angry with them," admitted Heidi Gordon. "[My son] loves to read Torah, and he doesn't want to give that up. We didn't want to make him suffer because of the fact that bad decisions were made up here."

Another Bucks parent, Jason Waksman, is having his daughter, a second-grader, finish out the year at the Bucks campus. While he's considering sending her to Abrams Hebrew Academy in Yardley, he said that whatever decision he makes, he'd like to make the transition easy on the child.

"She was happy and settled, comfortable with teachers and the curriculum and her friends," said Waksman. "The parents are still emotional about it. It's a sad thing to see it come to an end."

He has decided on one thing, however: Public school is not an option.

"We're committed to sending our daughter to a Jewish day school," said Waksman. "Hopefully, in the next several weeks, we'll have a decision."

As for the future of the Bucks faculty, Jay Leberman, head of school at Perelman, reassured the community by saying that all of the teachers from the Bucks school have been retained within the Perelman system.

Families who choose to continue their Perelman education at the Forman Center will also receive free busing, along with a continued discount in tuition through the fifth grade.

Abrams Makes an Offer

To entice former Perelman Bucks students, Abrams is offering kindergartners a $6,000 tuition - $3,000 less than the normal rate.

"We are trying to introduce people to Hebrew day schools," said Rabbi Ira Budow, director of Abrams. "If a person likes our education, we feel they will be a customer that will stay with us."

Budow said that four or five families from the Bucks branch have visited Abrams, and are still considering whether they will enroll their children.

Rabbi Jeff Pivo, the religious leader of Congregation Beth El in Yardley, has indicated his desire to send his daughter, in third grade, and his son, in first grade, to the Forman Center next year.

Like many parents at last month's board meeting, he said that he would prefer to enroll his children in a Jewish day school that aligns with his Conservative views, rather than a school like Abrams, which has more traditional leanings, and where boys and girls must pray separately.

"Abrams might be a good choice for other families," said Pivo, "but its orientation was not exactly what we were looking for."

 

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