Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Jewish Academy of Orlando to reallocate resources, focus on core mission


Christine DeSouza

The Jewish Academy of Orlando building.

The Jewish Academy of Orlando (JAO) is making a bold strategic move. The school looks to reduce its current real estate footprint in order to free up resources and further develop its progressive curriculum to best serve the needs of its gifted student population.

JAO's Board of Directors recently voted to sublease its building, constructed in 2006, on the Maitland Jewish Community Campus. The school also occupies a portion of the main campus facility, which houses The Roth Family JCC and offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando (JFGO). The school leases its space from JFGO, which owns and manages the Maitland campus.

"While we love having ample space, our priority is sharpening the focus on our rigorous curriculum and reallocating our resources to invest in faculty and classroom needs," said Jordan Steinberg, president of the Jewish Academy of Orlando Board.

Accordingly, the school will be listing the JAO building for sublease in the spring. Should a tenant be identified by late spring/early summer, the school will consolidate all its operations into its existing space in the main campus building, which can accommodate more than 250 students.

The school expanded its footprint in 2006, constructing a separate structure with approximately 45,000 square feet of new space. The facility has about 22,500 square feet of space upstairs that the JAO has not utilized.

"We are looking long-term to grow back into the space," said Alan Rusonik, Head of School. "However, today our priority is strengthening our progressive curriculum to challenge what is an incredibly gifted student body. We can do that by reallocating our resources to what matters-the Judaic and secular education of our students instead of rent of space we don't really need."

The Jewish Academy of Orlando has been housed in the main campus building for most of its 38-year history. "That is ample space for our current needs," says Rusonik.

The JAO has been working closely with JFGO to develop a plan to make the most efficient use of the space. The sublease solution came about as a result of those discussions.

"Federation fully supports this decision," says Rhonda Forest, chair of the JFGO Board of Directors. "We are committed to helping the Jewish Academy in every way possible and assisting JAO in offering a top-notch educational experience to its students and parents."

An ad hoc JAO committee is working with a brokerage firm to sublease the space. Those interested in this space may contact Jeffrey W. Bloom, CCIM, Senior Director, NAI Realvest at 407-949-0709.


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