Deja vu? The Teachers' Union will not allow the new kindergarten school year to open unless the government reinstates the budget for kindergarten security, the union's secretary-general Yossi Wasserman informed the Knesset's Education, Culture and Sports Committee on Wednesday.
The Finance Ministry decided to omit the funds from the recently approved Arrangements Act, despite defense establishment assessments that security personnel are needed in kindergartens.
Homeland Security's Meir Ben Yishai, who heads the ministry's Security Division, said that the Treasury's decision stands in direct contrast to recent intelligence assessments. Ben Yishai urged the government to reinstate security details in every school, in light of ongoing terror threats.
Abraham Tzedaka, head of the Defense Ministry's Security Division, who also took part in Wednesday's committee meeting, said that the although the Finance Ministry's decision will take effect in 2009, it introduces a great deal of uncertainty to the education system, but calling into question future security arrangements in schools.
No local authority would be willing to risk the Knesset not overturning this decision, warned Tzedaka, and the municipalities will not hesitate to contract private security firms, unless they are guaranteed the disputed budget. Civilian security, he continued, is imperative not only in light of terror threats, but also in view of school violence.
As the meeting adjourned, Knesset Member Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad), who heads the Knesset's Education Committee, urged the government to reinstate the fund and allot the municipalities the necessary funds.
The Teachers' Union is not alone in its fight. Several weeks ago, the Forum of 15 – a municipal committee representing Israel's 15 largest cities – announced it would not launch the new school year, now just a week away – in protest of the radical cutbacks made to State education.
Members of the National Union of Local Authorities held an emergency meeting with the Education Ministry last week, in an attempt to solve the brewing crisis, but to no avail.