BTJ CEO FACES CHALLENGES HE NEVER IMAGINED
When Boys Town Jerusalem CEO Amir Kisar first entered the school as a 13-year-old student, he couldn’t have imagined that 40 years later he would be walking through its eerily empty halls with the weight of its future on his shoulders.
“The corona pandemic that closed every school in the country is unlike any crisis we could have conceived,” he admits. “We’re now struggling on multiple fronts to help our students keep up with their studies, help their families deal with ever-increasing poverty, and meet the substantial financial challenges brought on by the situation.”
According to Kisar, a large, ever-growing number of parents have cancelled their monthly tuition payments as they have lost their jobs and businesses. At the same time, the government has not compensated schools for corona-increased expenses. “Compared to other Jerusalem high schools, Boys Town Jerusalem contains a higher percentage of students from the weakest socioeconomic strata, yet we boast 25-30% more teachers. Despite the cost, the augmented teaching staff is crucial to our commitment to provide students with the finest education and greatest personal attention to succeed.
“Over the many weeks that schools have been closed, our teachers have been instructing students via distance-learning,” Kisar stresses. “We continue to pay their salaries, despite our reduced income. Simultaneously, we’re aiding many boys in perilous family situations. With our dormitories closed under government order, we’ve arranged special accommodations for students in utmost need. The crisis has forced us to take major, painful steps to cut costs, from laying off 90% of our non-pedagogic staff to reducing maintenance costs, while continuing to cover outlying expenses and binding contracts.”
Amir Kisar’s number one trauma? “The uncertainty that prevails. Not knowing when or how school will resume, and how best to protect our students’ health and safety.” Yet overall, he remains optimistic. “With prayers to the Almighty and help from our friends, the school will emerge stronger than ever.”
If you’d like to help the school during this difficult time, please make a donation here.