Aug 19, 2009

Abutbol splits school building in half for haredi kids

Bet Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbol is coming under fire again for another decisiion he just made. This one looks like it is just another one of Abutbol's moves to satisfy the haredi contingent in the city and ignore the old-time secular/traditional sector of the city.

Abutbol has decided to take a school building being used by a [mostly] secular student body, and split it in half and put a haredi school in the same building.

People are up in arms. The old-timers are furious with Abutbol, once again.

But this time Abutbol is right.

(I don't know what school should have been put in, I don't know how they decide priority for which school gets classrooms and buildings, so I am not commenting on the specific school or affiliation that was moved in, but on the concept of what was done)

The school under discussion, the School for Languages and Culture, is a secular public school that was placed in the middle of al almost completely religious neighborhood, taking up valuable classrooms and resources from a community that has an abject shortage of such resources. Nearly the whole student body that attends the school is bused in from other areas of Bet Shemesh and are for the most part not local kids.

This school building should never have been allocated for that school. For whatever reasons it was done, it is about time that the school i snow being allocated for use by local children. Not only was it wrong in the first place, but the school, according to the reports, sits half empty. The building is meant for a school of 400 children, and the school using the building has a registration of 180 kids.

Why should a building sit half-empty, and the half that is being used is mostly not even local kids?

This building should always have been allocated for used by a local school, and it is about time that it was so designated. Clearly, splitting the building is a short-term solution and eventually the original school will be moved completely. The best idea would be for Abutbol not to be on the defensive, but to find a solution for this school in old Bet Shemesh, and proactively put the school there, and announce to the "old Bet Shemesh" people that he is giving them a new school building and whatever else he has to offer them.

Even though Abutbol is doing the right thing in this, he has done it in a way that only upsets people, as they think he is just cowtowing to the haredi public again. He might even have done it because they pressured him to, but had he done it with a keener eye to public relations, he could have pulled it off with everyone's support because it really is a step in the right direction for this school building.


  1. I agree with those who think it was handled poorly and that it seems that the mayor is once again forcing out the secular and giving the Haredi residents preferential treatment.

    If the school no longer fit the demographics of the community, and more importantly IMO, was wasting space that could be better used by the residents and is needed by the residents, the school should have been moved out first to a smaller location. In 2 years the incoming Haredi classes will fill this school to capacity any way.

  2. Remember that the tarbuti school was established when RBSA was a mixed neighbourhood. No-one knew that within 6 years it would look like Beitar.

    For the record Abutbul has also promised classrooms in that school to Ahavat Yisrael girls, who are located next door and have outgrown their building. These families would be a much better fit with the kids who are already in the tarbuti school, and would probably co-exist very nicely.

  3. Shalom (Lerner) AchshavAugust 20, 2009 12:11 PM

    "I agree with those who think it was handled poorly and that it seems that the mayor is once again forcing out the secular and giving the Haredi residents preferential treatment."

    You can't be speaking of Moshe Abutbol, Mayor for All of the (Charedi) People

  4. Please cut the mayor some slack here.

    Its very nice that it was given to chilonim 6 years ago, but things change here. RBSA, especially the area near that school is a chareidi area. That school does not draw from the local population. That school does not even draw from the greater BS area as much as it has in the past, as evidenced that there are enough classrooms to give away to 2 different schools.

    To those who think that Abutbol is a mayor "only for the chareidim" - you should know that most chareidim are pretty upset with him, and his hiding behind his inability to "start a chareidi - chiloni war" in Bet Shemesh.

    Seems like no one is happy with him at this point. School allotments are just the beginninf of the list of complaints

  5. this was a fight even back when it wa soriginally allocated. even though the neighborhood was more mixed then, this school still then also had mostly old BS kids being bused in. It was never allocated with logic, and to re-allocate it now is fine.

    it is funny how he is bragging about bringing tens of classrooms to the haredi public in bet shemesh and bringing more equality of distribution. Vaknin brought on average 120 classrooms per year for the haredi community when he was mayor, and they were real buildings. Abutbol, the haredi mayor with haredi people in charge of much of the irya, and all his connections with Shas so powerful in government, is bragging about bringing a couple tens of caravans for classrooms for the haredi schools.

  6. Rafi- What are you saying? ALL of my kids are housed in caravans placed for their schools by Vaknin, and rumor has it that one of the schools wanted to build a building on the same plot on which there are now ten caravans sitting, and was not allowed to do so with their own money. I don't know about Abutbol- and I don't usually get mixed up in politics- but Vaknin did a terrible job of allocating appropriate space to the schools in the area we are discussing, attended by children from that area.

  7. I agree, which is why we voted him out. But the fact is that Vaknin built tons of classrooms every year, and most were in real buildings. True, often they were not allocated reasonably.

    That one point where I compared was just a note that if you read the local papers the last few weeks you would have seen them bragging about how they attained 30 new classrooms this year (30 is just a number I mention, it changed a few times 20, 40, 30, etc.) and had pictures of caravans being placed. So I was just saying that they are bragging about bringing a few caravans, when Vaknin built buildings. And our mayor bragging about caravans should have an easier time considering how powerful shas is in government (which is one of the things he used in his campaign - that he is shas and shas is in govt and he will have an easier time getting govt allocations for the city)


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