Barkat's education equation

•Mayoral candidate and Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat revealed this week his plan for improving the education system in the city. In front of some 100 of his supporters gathered at his home, Barkat cited figures on the present situation in the city. The city budgets every pupil in the primary and high schools NIS 3,800, as compared to NIS 7,467 in Modi'in, NIS 11,105 in Tel Aviv and NIS 14,459 in Gush Etzion, he said. Barkat's plan to strengthen Jerusalem's education system includes allowing children to study at the school of their choosing, as well as investing more in teaching and administration staff, youth groups and extra-curricular activities. Funding for the proposal is based on the creation of a partnership between the state and private entrepreneurs. In the presence of MK Rabbi Michael Melchior (Meimad-Labor), head of the Knesset Education Committee, and several high school principals and pedagogues, Barkat promised that on his watch, education would top the city's agenda, and assured his audience that he could bring change. •Arieh Hess is looking for new partners for his green list. After having lost Naomi Tsur to Barkat and city council Dalia Zommer to the national Green party of Pe'er Wisner, Hess is now considering city councilor Meir Turgeman, hoping to join his social-activist list for the next city council. •Sources in the local haredi community say that Mayor Uri Lupolianski may still be a mayoral candidate in the upcoming elections. In light of MK Meir Porush's low ratings in the latest polls, some prominent rabbis are reconsidering their decision to appoint him as the haredi candidate. For the moment, Lupolianski isn't commenting, but at Barkat;s headquarters, this possibility is being taken seriously even as Barkat continues to beat Lupolianski at the polls. •Oligarch Arkadi Gaydamak has still not revealed who's on his list. Even his mayoral candidacy has yet to be confirmed, although he recently announced that as mayor he'd rather die before allowing another gay pride parade to take place in the capital. •Pepe Alalu, head of the Meretz list to the city council, is expected to reveal in a press conference next week a secret already known at Kikar Safra: his intention to run for mayor as a moderate alternative to the haredi candidate, Porush, and the right-wing, secular candidate, Barkat. "At least I could endanger Barkat's victory in such a way that he would be forced to moderate his extremist right positions," Alalu said this week. So far no panic has been detected at Barkat's headquarters, but this possibility could, more than anything, return residents to their old ways: If there is a split among secular candidates, Jerusalemites will, as in the past, probably prefer to spend their time at a coffee shop rather than at the voting booths.