The families of Ottawa’s two Orthodox elementary day schools – Torah Academy of Ottawa and the Chabad-affiliated Rambam Day School – have reached an agreement to unify in time for the 2016-2017 school year.
The school – which will be renamed after consultations with parents – will retain the Torah Academy structure. The agreement will see Rambam’s approximately 45 students integrated with the Torah Academy student body, which currently numbers about 80 students.
The school will also retain the Torah Academy faculty for both Judaic and general studies, which will be augmented by most of the Rambam faculty. The school will remain in the current Torah Academy building at 1119 Lazard Street for the next school year. However, a task force of parents will be struck to investigate options for future years – including the possibility of moving to the Jewish Community Campus school building, where Rambam has been located since 2008.
The Torah Academy Board and the Rambam parents’ group agreed last June to pursue negotiations aimed at unifying their student bodies and the details were arrived at following nine months of meetings. The school communities were represented by committees headed by Debbie Scharf, a Torah Academy parent, and Evan Green, a Rambam parent. The meetings were facilitated by Steven Kimmel, immediate past-chair of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, and Bram Bregman, Federation vice-president of community building.
The memorandum of understanding was ratified overwhelmingly on February 18 by the parent bodies of both schools.
Representatives of both schools told the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin that combining resources and student bodies will mean greater efficiencies and opportunities for Orthodox students in Ottawa.
“We want excellence in education for our children and we recognize that one school gives us the best opportunity for this excellence. We want the best possible school that brings together a solid Judaic education but does not compromise on secular [education],” said Evan Green, who chaired the Rambam parents’ group and is now vice-chair of the Transition Committee.
“Having a strong Orthodox, Torah-based school will allow us to achieve greater goals than what would ever be possible alone,” said Ilan Metz, the Torah Academy Board chair, and Debbie Scharf, chair of the Transition Committee. “A larger base of children means a wider social circle, and less combined grades. More financial resources will enable the school to offer more educational options, resource teachers and expand extra-curricular offerings. The school will … attract a broader base of Jewish families in Ottawa who care deeply about the Torah and Judaism.”
“The parents voted to unify the student bodies, which will only strengthen Jewish education in Ottawa in the long-term, and we look forward to continuing to work with the unified school’s capable leadership to advance and promote day school education,”said Bregman.