After a crisis that lasted for months, Education Minister
Yuli Tamir agreed — after extensive pressure from MK
Rabbi Moshe Gafni — to transfer all of the funding
needed to pay busing costs, including both past debts and for
the coming school year. The announcement made it possible for
Chinuch Atzmai to open the school year at all of its
institutions around the country.
For months the busing crisis has hung over the heads of
Chinuch Atzmai principals and threatened to open the academic
year at many outreach and other types of specialized schools
where without transportation students would simply stay home
or choose an alternative school system.
In his efforts to solve the problem, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni
encountered complex bureaucratic and legal obstacles. He
exchanged letters and met innumerable times with the
Education Minister, the Director of the Education Ministry,
Finance Ministry officials and Education Ministry accountants
and legal advisors. On several occasions he received promises
that did not come to fruition.
Recently marathon meetings were held to reach a fixed
solution that would allow the school year to open on time.
Rabbi Gafni spoke with all of the officials involved in the
matter and held long meetings with Minister Tamir.
Last week, following a prolonged, tough battle, twice Rabbi
Gafni managed to prevent the Knesset Education Committee from
granting routine approval for payments for parents and the
extended school day in the regular school system as a
pressure tactic to force the Education Ministry to reach a
solution to the Chinuch Atzmai busing crisis.
The next morning Minister Tamir summoned Rabbi Gafni to her
Knesset office and, following an exchange, wrote out by hand
a letter promising the Education Ministry would cover Chinuch
Atzmai's busing costs, including last year's deficit, funding
for this year and 10 percent in reserve funding to allow for
any problems that might arise during the course of the
Addressing the letter to MK Gafni, she wrote, "The busing
agreement for 5767 will allow the Chinuch Atzmai network to
receive funding of no less than 90 percent of the busing
arrangement for 5766. The network's debts will be covered
with the consent of the associations network as agreed upon
during a meeting held on 29-8-06 at the Education Ministry.
The future busing arrangement will be determined according to
criteria to be agreed upon with Rabbi Mordechai Karelitz and
The deliberations between the two sides continued until the
scheduled time for the committee meeting. Rabbi Gafni
demanded that the funds be transferred by Thursday to allow
the school year to begin on time.
During the committee meeting the Education Minister's
proposals on fee payments for parents and the extended school
day were finally approved.
Numerous school principals called or sent letters to Rabbi
Gafni, thanking him for his prodigious efforts to solve the
Chinuch Atzmai heads expressed cautious optimism, recalling
that last year, four days before the first day of school,
then Education Minister and Education Ministry Director
promised to save the busing system from collapse within
hours, but the funding did not materialize for an entire
year. According to Chinuch Atzmai spokesmen large debts
accumulated over the past years, primarily because the local
authorities failed to transfer budget funds.
The issue of transferring funds for Chinuch Atzmai busing
through the local authorities is included in the Chareidi
Education Law UTJ is trying to legislate as part of coalition
negotiations with Kadima, but no progress has been made so