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Religious-schools rent behind in Toronto

March 2, 2009 at 5:14 PM

TORONTO, March 2 (UPI) -- The Toronto school board is owed nearly $1 million in back rent by two Orthodox Jewish groups running schools in district buildings, documents reveal.

Yeshiva Yesodei Hatorah, which rents out Glen Rush Public School, owes $701,700 and Yeshiva Bnei Tzion of Bobov owes $251,190 for Champlain Public School, the Toronto Star reported Monday.

School board Chairman John Campbell said the religious groups have had "cash-flow problems." The Jewish groups have been operating under a 10-year-old deal under which they were to pay off any past-due rent when they buy the buildings, something they have been unable to accomplish, Campbell said.

The district rents out 48 unneeded school buildings to church and other organizations, reported the Star, which obtained the documents.

Campbell said the board would rather not evict tenants that provide a service to a community.

"Although we're prepared to be compassionate and fair with our tenants, that does not mean they should feel they are in a position to take advantage of us," he said.

The newspaper said a man at Yeshiva Bnei Tzion, who identified himself only as the director, said the organization has always had difficulty paying the rent.

Rabbi Asher Bornstein at Yeshiva Yesodei Hatorah declined to talk in-depth with the newspaper but noted "There has been a lot of negotiations going on for years ... it's almost over."

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