Jerusalem to invest NIS 1 billion to build 1,000 new classrooms

Barkat: We have created a groundbreaking, out-of-the-box financial model for constructing classrooms in the city.

Classroom (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Jerusalem Municipality on Wednesday announced a “breakthrough” NIS 1 billion initiative to construct 1,000 classrooms throughout the capital to address the pronounced shortage of schools.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he devised a “unique financial model” to fund the construction, which various financial bodies led by Bank Leumi will utilize to raise the money needed.
“We have created a groundbreaking, out-of-the-box financial model for constructing classrooms in the city, which is excellent news for our residents,” Barkat said in a statement. “It is our utmost responsibility to provide each student with the proper tools, and an environment to succeed in their studies.”
According to Barkat, the Interior Ministry approved NIS 370 million for the project last week, allowing for immediate construction of approximately 370 classrooms.
“For the past few years, the city has suffered from a shortage of approximately 3,800 classrooms, as determined by a recent mapping project of the city’s educational system: 505 in the general sector, 1,938 in the Arab sector and 1,410 in the haredi [ultra-Orthodox] sector,” he said.
“The cost of closing this gap is estimated at roughly NIS 5b. This shortage is the result of a number of interrelated factors, including a lack of state funding and a city growth rate that dictates the need for an additional 186 classrooms per year,” he added.
Barkat noted that construction of the classrooms, which he plans to expedite, will save the municipality an annual sum of approximately NIS 140m., which the city currently spends to lease temporary classroom facilities in the capital.
“The new, expedited process will take between 18 months and two years, shortening the current process by roughly a year,” he said. “In parallel, the director- general of the municipality is leading a newly established administration to execute the planning, execution and financing of the construction of thousands of missing kindergarten and school classrooms.”
The municipal company Moriya will be in charge of planning and building the classrooms and will work with the Local Government Economic Services Ltd, which is already engaged in building educational institutions throughout the city.
The new classrooms will be built along with laboratories, libraries, activity areas and other state-of-the-art facilities, the mayor said, adding that his plan was designed to sidestep lengthy bureaucratic procedures.
“We will not be deterred by red tape and we will not wait forever for the funds for these classrooms to arrive from the government,” Barkat said. “The students of Jerusalem deserve better.”
“I would like to thank the Interior Ministry and Bank Leumi for joining us in our efforts,” he said.
“We can now roll up our sleeves and get to work.”