Agreement reached earlier Wednesday over younger children

2.5 million kids to go back to school Thursday after deal reached with high schools

Last-minute agreement between Treasury and Secondary School Teachers’ Association will shorten school week to 5 days, revamp humanities exams

Illustrative: Israeli students at a high school in the southern city of Ashdod, November 29, 2020. (Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli students at a high school in the southern city of Ashdod, November 29, 2020. (Flash90)

All 2.5 million Israeli schoolchildren are set to start the school year on Thursday morning, after a last-minute agreement was reached Wednesday night for high schools to avert a strike, following a similar deal earlier in the day regarding younger students.

The 2,496,000 students and 218,000 education workers will begin the year in 5,440 schools and 22,050 kindergartens around the country. Some 177,000 of the students are starting first grade, and 136,000 are starting their final year of high school.

The deal between the Finance Ministry and the Secondary School Teachers’ Association was announced around 10 p.m., with parents and students left to wait until hours before the start of the school year before knowing whether studies would in fact begin.

Ran Erez, head of the Secondary School Teachers’ Association, announced that the Finance Ministry had heeded their demands regarding shortening the school week to five days and implementing reforms in humanities high school matriculation exams.

While saying all his demands were met, Erez added: “I have once again come to the conclusion that the Finance Ministry is a champion at making things difficult.”

“All the students of the State of Israel are returning to school tomorrow and opening the school year with joy and celebration, including the high school students,” Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton declared.

Secondary School Teachers’ Association chief Ran Erez speaks at an education conference by The Marker business newspaper in Kiryat Ono, August 24, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The announcement came hours after the Israel Teachers Union, which represents nursery school, kindergarten and elementary school teachers, announced that it had reached an 11th-hour agreement with the treasury following months of talks.

The agreement, which has yet to be signed, will last until 2026. It provides higher salaries for teachers and principals as well as performance bonuses. It also changes school vacation days to better align school schedules with those of working parents.

From left to right: Teachers’ Union Secretary-General Yaffa Ben David, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Bitton and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman hold a press conference following the new salary agreement with teachers on August 31, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The sides also agreed to a more streamlined process for laying off teachers and a three-year wait before qualifying for tenure.

The final weeks of the previous school year were marred by strikes by the Israel Teachers Union in their struggle for better pay.

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