J'lem pre-schools left without security

Exclusive: Municipality cites lack of funds; teacher: Someone could walk right into our school.

By MATTHEW KRIEGER
October 11, 2007 23:09
2 minute read.
security guard 298.88

security guard 224.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

 
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Many Jerusalem day care centers started the new school year without guards, with teachers saying the municipality decided not to pay for security, citing budgetary constraints. "Two days before we opened for the school year, we got a call from a municipal representative telling us that they think our security situation at the school is safe enough and that we wouldn't be getting security," said the director of a pre-school in Jerusalem's Baka neighborhood. "She told us that there is not enough money for all schools to be assigned a security guard and we have been left without one." Following the outbreak of the second intifada seven years ago, the United Jewish Communities initiated the Israel Emergency Fund, raising millions of dollars from Americans and Canadians. The money was allocated by the UJC's partner organizations, the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee, to hire security guards for schools across the country. The campaign ended in 2004, leaving many schools without adequate security. "The money that was raised during the emergency campaign was for a specific time and because of extra danger, and when the emergency situation ended, the funding stopped," a UJC spokeswoman said. While terrorism has declined, teachers are still fuming that they have been left without security guards. They blame city hall. "We are a municipal pre-school and therefore the municipality must pay for everything related to the school, including security guards, which must be placed outside of our school," said a teacher in Baka, adding that directly behind her school there was a construction site manned by Arabs. "Who is to stop someone from walking right into our school?" she asked. Calls to the municipality were not returned. Even though the UJC's emergency campaign has ended, a number of capital pre-schools still display signs saying the [no longer present] security guards there are a gift of the organization. "The signs were put up in honor of Jews all over the world who stood by Israel and donated money to the Emergency Campaign during that time of crisis, and it would not be right to take them down," the UJC spokeswoman said. "The donations for the guards were given at the specific request of the Education Ministry for the duration of the campaign, and when the campaign ended, the decision regarding future funding and the needs for security guards remained in the hands of the ministry." The decision to leave schools without security guards has left parents confused and angered. "There is always an ongoing battle as to who should pay for security," said one Baka parent. "During the intifada, US citizens gave money. Now this should be paid for by the municipality, but they have decided that we don't need it and they are passing the buck." "Last year, there was a security guard here, but since the beginning of the year, there has not been one here," another parent added. "But what are we supposed to do? Life cannot not stop just because there are no security guards."

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