School fees: What should you be paying for 2013-2014 (תשע”ד)?
The marathon of 2013 – 2014 school meetings is starting. Since you’re being asked to pay up, you should know how much they can legally demand.
In testimony before the Knesset Education Committee, Minister of Education Rabbi Shai Piron stated that his goal is to over time eliminate parental payments. Despite that, fees seem to have gone up considerably from last year to this year.
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): This covers personal accident insurance (ביטוח תאונות אישיות / bituach teunot ishiyot).
- 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 take 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 the activities take place during school hours, students whose parents did not pay must be allowed to participate in the supplemental learning program or in alternate educational activities.
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.
2013-2014 (תשע”ד) Payments
On 17 June 2013, the Knesset Education Committee approved the schedule of parental payments for the 2013 – 2014 school year. These amounts represent the maximum parents can be asked to pay for their children.
Important details are available for the breakdown of each of the aforementioned payment types for both regular and torani students. (For example, under voluntary payments how much can be asked to sponsor an end of year party (מסיבת סיום / mesibat siyum)?) There are also a few exceptions (e.g., if your school is south of the line between the Sde Boker Junction and the HaArava Junction, an extra 290 NIS can be added for a trip).
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.
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. However, given the epidemic of overcharging, your best bet is likely to band together with other parents to keep costs in check.
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!