New York’s Private Schools Need More Money

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Photo: Courtesy of The Dalton School

Private school in New York isn't all Zen Dance interludes and sushi lunches. Those things cost money, and the Times says the city's private schools are ramping up their fund-raising efforts after most schools have reached the $40,000 tuition breaking point.

Schools' development offices spend their days researching parents' "homes, luxury cars, private planes, stock holdings and donations to other charities" to figure out which might be most willing and able to fork over more cash.

Daniel Boyer, a senior consultant at Marts & Lundy, a consulting firm with a substantial private school practice, explains how the data mining works. If a parent sits on the board of one of the city's museums, for example, “Let the person tell you about their interest in the arts and what they like to support and whether they would like to support a high school student who has an interest in art."

In New York, the median amount of annual giving shot up 268 percent in the last decade, from $462,341 to $1.7 million.

But not all parents are handing over their money so exuberantly. Rachael Combe, an editor at Elle, enrolled her son in a $21,000-a-year Upper East Side preschool and received an invitation from the head of the school to come in for a chat shortly after. The headmaster asked if Combe and her husband would be willing to give $25,000 or $50,000 for a new capital campaign.

“It just made clear everything that was making me uncomfortable about New York City private schools,” she said. Not long after, they sold their apartment and moved to Larchmont, Westchester, where money doesn't even exist.