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

JAO to focus on K - 5th grade


With parental support, Jewish Academy of Orlando announced March 18 that they are suspending enrollment for middle school and will focus on kindergarten through fifth grade. Board President Jordan Steinberg stated, “We had to make some tough decisions, based upon enrollment numbers, financial considerations, and community responsibility. We owe it to our families to provide the high quality product they have grown accustomed to.”

Although there were some families interested in enrollment, Jewish Academy has to stay true to its mission and the delivery of unparalleled academics.

Steinberg added, “We do have parental support. Many parents have shared that we don’t need to make excuses for doing the right thing for the school. We are making sure that the school is viable, and fiscally responsible. It’s time to rethink the way we operate our school, and listen to what our parents and community supporters are telling us.”

Head of School Alan Rusonik shared, “I think when it comes to attending a small school, there are clearly advantages and disadvantages. But at one point, small can become too small and the disadvantages begin to outweigh the advantages.”

Jewish Academy of Orlando prides itself in delivering a high-quality education. “We asked ourselves if we could provide enough variety in the curriculum and extracurricular activities, as well as a range of social experiences for the students,” said Rusonik. “Unfortunately, the enrollment was below a threshold that we could not meet these demands.”

Continuing, Rusonik added, “We will be able to focus 100 percent on our thriving kindergarten through fifth grade classes. The school also plans to ‘right-size’ the large space it currently occupies, and is working closely with Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando to bring in much needed revenue to help sustain and further develop academic and Jewish activities. Ultimately, all of these moves will allow the board and administration to return to our core mission and prepare JAO for the years to come. JAO also plans to offer curriculum improvements and differentiated learning programs that many families are looking for.

Since 1977, hundreds of students have benefited from the Jewish Academy of Orlando’s education and atmosphere, while being inspired by its Jewish studies and community. It is the hope of the board and administration to strengthen our school and continue to provide academic excellence for future members of the Orlando Jewish community.


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