The Knesset voted to approve the “Gafni Law” in a first vote on Monday. The law would provide additional municipal funding for private hareidi-religious schools.
The law received initial approval several days ago, but has been changed since. The proposal now would see municipalities providing services worth money, not cash, to boost the hareidi-religious school system.
The bill would provide 75 percent funding for the schools, in place of the 100 percent initially suggested. It would change the current situation, in which local governments are not allowed to provide private schools with services worth money, such as electricity or cleaning.
MK Gafni, of United Torah Judaism (UTJ), expressed satisfaction with the bill, saying it could make the difference between hareidi-religious schools continuing to teach pupils next year or being forced to close in the upcoming weeks.
Opponents argue that the bill unfairly discriminates against non-hareidi private schools, which may not receive the extra funding. In addition, members of the Meretz party charged last week that the law would discriminate against public schools, which must teach the core curriculum in order to receive state funding.
Equal Funding for All?
An order signed by Education Minister Gidon Saar could change the way funding is distributed to Israel's public schools. According to the Maariv newspaper, the order would provide equal government funding to schools in all municipalities, regardless of the financial situation within individual municipalities.
The order is the subject of a Supreme Court suit demanding that the state give more funding to weaker municipalities, in order to provide a similar level of education to all students. The suit was filed by Yitzchak Bokovza, formerly the mayor of Or Yehuda.