Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Ellul 5766 - September 6, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Chinuch Atzmai Busing Crisis Finally Resolved

By Betzalel Kahn

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 year.

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 [Chinuch Atzmai]."

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 problem.

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 far.


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