As final preparation for the 5770 school year are being put into place the Education Department at the Jerusalem Municipality released figures showing 60 classrooms are set to open at chareidi schools, including 56 classrooms formerly used by government schools that are being transferred due to diminishing enrollment. The budget for chareidi education is being increased by NIS 16 million ($4 million) and the renovations budget for talmudei Torah is being doubled in order to strengthen "exempt" institutions.
Deputy Mayor and Education Commissioner Rabbi Yitzchok Pindrus, who has been working on these issues since assuming his post, said he was very pleased with the increased budget and number of classrooms.
Teams are consulting intensively with Mayor Nir Barkat and Rabbi Pindrus to solve the funding crisis for janitors and kindergarten aides at Chinuch Atzmai schools in Jerusalem as a result of the obstacles created by Municipal Legal Advisor Yossi Chavilio, and are hoping a solution can be reached before next Thursday's council meeting.
The Chareidi Education Department, led by Rabbi Itamar Bar Ezer, has been preparing programs, classrooms and construction permits for the past seven months. In 12 meetings, Mayor Barkat and Rabbi Pindrus reviewed options for allocating facilities to various schools. In some areas solutions were found and their implementation has begun.
Meanwhile in Bnei Brak the City Council approved the preparatory budget for the 5770 school year submitted by the municipal education department. The budget comes to over NIS 11 million ($2.9 million), which will be provided through municipal budgetary funds, the Education Ministry and the Mifal Hapayis assistance fund.
Several other budget items related to specific areas of education were also approved during a recent council meeting: NIS 1.5 million ($395,000) for equipment and furniture at primary schools and high schools, NIS 200,000 ($53,000) for high school lab rooms, NIS 560,000 ($145,000) for furniture and equipment at talmudei Torah, NIS 800,000 ($210,000) to renovate an events and activities hall adjacent to Massuot School, NIS 200,000 ($53,000) to renovate a building to be used as a wing of the Beis Yaakov Merkaz School, NIS 851,000 ($220,000) to build another floor at the Shirat Yosef teaching and advancement center and NIS 480,000 ($125,000) for the purchase of computers.
The municipal funding is also earmarked for development work at 40 schools, including electrical work, construction finishing work, interior work, labs, sinks, drinking fountains, etc.
This year, for the first time in Bnei Brak history, a sum of NIS 2,150,000 ($560,000) will be made available to yeshivos ketanos for furniture and equipment purchases. Mayor Rabbi Yaakov Osher says he considers it a privilege to pioneer this breakthrough and to back the yeshivos ketanos.
The budget also includes NIS 1,825,000 ($475,000) earmarked for renovations, air conditioners, safety work, water coolers and other projects at various special education institutions.
During the council meeting the addition of 145 new classrooms was announced, including a number of classrooms slated to open for the coming school year.