Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Av 5767 - August 2, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Jerusalem Municipality Instruct Schools on How to Receive Funding to Pay Workers' Salaries

By Betzalel Kahn

The Jerusalem Municipality contacted principals and directors of chareidi educational institutions in the city and instructed them to secure funding for employees' salaries by filing requests with the Municipal Support Payments Committee. The municipality says that despite the Justice Ministry's directive, employees at chareidi educational institutions will be able to remain at their posts and be paid.

Recently legal rulings issued by Atty. Amnon de Hartoch of the Justice Ministry went into effect, forcing local authorities to dismiss all workers at chareidi educational institutions employed as municipal workers. The rulings had their greatest impact in Jerusalem, the city with the largest chareidi education system in the country, but advance preparation has allowed the municipality to continue funding the employees' salaries.

In order to effect a comprehensive solution to the Justice Ministry decrees, Mayor Rabbi Uri Lupoliansky has conducted marathon meetings over the past several months with legal experts at the municipality and elsewhere, which led to the initiative to formulate new criteria for the support regulations for education. These criteria allow the municipality to continue funding the employees in the chareidi schools by transferring funds directly to the educational networks, thereby allowing the municipality to continue full support for the maintenance of the institutions.

Representatives of the municipality's Department for Chareidi Education notified principals and directors that the municipality has budgeted special funds to cover the cost of paying the 170 office workers and janitors who are involved. The department heads explained to the principals and school network heads how to submit requests to the support funding committee, asking them to do so immediately in order to accelerate the transfer of funds. The director of the Department for Chareidi Education at the Jerusalem Municipality, Rabbi Itamar Bar-Ezer, said that although the municipality would continue to transfer to the school networks the cost of paying workers' salaries, because in the future the employers will be the institutions themselves rather than the city as has been the case up until now, the municipality worked uncompromisingly to ensure that the employees receive the same benefits as they had been receiving previously.

Rabbi Bar-Ezer also said that according to new municipality regulations special education workers would also continue to have their salaries covered by the municipality, which would transfer additional funding special-ed classes have not received previously, by paying the external study fees non- municipal institutions are eligible for.

The recently approved Knesset law requiring local authorities to pay for 75 percent of operating expenses at "recognized but unofficial" institutions should have circumvented de Hartoch's rulings, but the Education Ministry has been slow to formulate regulations to implement the law. Recently MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni urged Education Minister Yuli Tamir to consult with representatives of recognized institutions during the talks over finalizing the regulations. "Holding meetings on all of these issues without consulting and cooperating with representatives [from the chareidi education system] is liable to be interpreted as tendentious and unprofessional," Rabbi Gafni wrote in a recent letter to Minister Tamir.

Deputy Mayor Rabbi Uri Maklev, who holds the chareidi education portfolio, said that when the law takes effect and is implemented at the local authorities, it would primarily help educational institutions in local authorities that lack strong chareidi representation. "The Jerusalem Municipality is not waiting until the final directives are complete. Jerusalem is among the only authorities that budget chareidi educational networks 100 percent, rather than 75 percent as the law requires, and will continue to do so despite the Justice Ministry directive, by using the new support regulation," said Rabbi Maklev. But when the Nahari Law goes into effect, noted Rabbi Maklev, it will still have ramifications for educational institutions in Jerusalem, for it will allow the municipality to fund school maintenance directly rather than using this new indirect mechanism.


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