Cash cuts force Mesivta head to quit

By Jonathan Kalmus, April 1, 2011

The headteacher of an Orthodox secondary school has been forced to take early retirement because of personal health concerns sparked by a barrage of spending cuts imposed by the local authority.

Phaivish Pink, who has headed Manchester Mesivta for 34 years, was due to retire next year when he reached 65. But he said mounting pressures of the job, particularly a cull in his school's budget, have taken their toll.

In a letter to parents, governors said the school's head would leave in April. It cited his wishes for an "immediate and complete break". But speaking to the JC, Mr Pink said doctor's advice had been the reason for his early departure after suffering extreme stress over a claw-back of promised local authority funding to his school.

"I've been struggling to deal with financial pressures to our school which have been caused by insidious cuts. The local authority are going to charge us for services that were free. We are losing £25,000 from our budget annually. That's put a lot pressure on me. Most heads go at 60. I thought I could carry on much longer, but because I'm doing so many other things my doctor has advised me to reduce my workload."

Mr Pink, who also runs teacher training courses, regretted that for the first time his 200-pupil Prestwich school is to consider a redundancy, but job losses are yet to be confirmed. Among the squeezes in funding was an announcement that a £10,000 transport grant would be cut. Bury Council also said the school's internet broadband, originally installed for free, would cost £4,000 next year. Changes to the structure of government grants has also lead to £7,000 being lost.

Mesivta has now applied for academy status which will mean funding in future will come directly from the government. It is expected to gain the status on July 1 and is hoped to reduce budgetary concerns.

Mesivta's governors' chair Irving Shapiro said: "The governors are taking all necessary measures to ensure the smooth running of the school during this period. A search has commenced to find a replacement [headteacher] and we hope to make an announcement in due course.

"I express my heartfelt thanks to Mr Pink for his sterling service over many years to generations of pupils," he added.

A Bury Council spokesman said: "With all of these developments the cause of the funding loss is due to national decisions. All local authorities will be facing similar cuts."

Last updated: 10:09am, April 1 2011