The new school year has already begun, and it’s time to open your checkbook. How much should you be shelling out?
Types of payments
How much you have to pay in total parental payments (תשלומי הורים / tashlumei horim) comes from a number of different payment types with different statuses.
- Mandatory payment (תשלום חובה / tashlum chova)
- Special payment (תשלום מיוחד / tashlum meyuchad): When charged, it is a mandatory fee for comprehensive dental insurance.
- Voluntary payments (תשלומי רשות / tashlumei reshut): The maximum amount of money that can be requested is defined. If the parent declines to pay the requested sum, alternate activities must be provided for the child.
- Voluntary purchases of services (רכישת שירותים מרצון / rechishat sherutim meratzon)
- These are completely voluntary as they fall outside of the boundary of the above two categories.
- Examples of these include chugim, internet services, food, school newspaper, and external educational services.
- If the activities take place outside of school hours, there is no need to include students whose parents did not pay. If the activities place during school hours, all students must be allowed to participate whether their parents paid or not.
- Supplemental learning program (תל”ן /tal”an): Such a program is voluntary as well.
If you are unsure about what you are being asked to pay for, it is your right to request a written description of the costs including which are mandatory and which are voluntary.
On 25 July 2012, the Knesset Education, Culture, and Sports Committee approved the maximum payments that can be asked of parents to pay for each child in a number of categories.
There are a few exceptions, and important details are available for the breakdown of each of the aforementioned payment types. (For example, under voluntary payments how much can be asked to sponsor an end of year party (מסיבת סיום / mesibat siyum)?)
Many parents will have additional categories of payments with which to contend:
- Parents of high school students may be asked to pay extra if their children take certain subjects.
- Religious schools are permitted to charge an additional 5,000 NIS for a torani supplemental learning program (תל”ן תורני), with discounts available to those with multiple siblings learning in such a program.
But, I’m being overcharged!
Despite all the money you can be legally asked to lay out for “free” education, some schools may demand more than they are legally entitled to demand. If you’re being overcharged, turns out you’re in good company. According to a Knesset report, during the 2009 – 2010 school year 51% of schools demanded payments in excess of the legal limits.
However, if you need or want to safeguard your wallet and the school isn’t interested in listening to your request to pay only up to the legal maximum, there is a place you can turn to short of hiring a lawyer. The Ministry of Education has a designated person in each district to refer to for questions and clarifications regarding parental payments.
There may be additional payments that are not mentioned here, but the above is a good guide to the basics. Of course, you can always voluntarily make a donation to the Parents’ Committee (ועד הורים / va’ad horim) if you’ve got the cash and think it a worthy investment. Best of luck in the new school year!