Elementary, middle schools and high schools nationwide will shutter on Thursday as teachers and education professionals are set to join a general strike protesting the government’s plans to slash funding from local authorities in the upcoming state budget.
The Education Ministry’s director-general Asaf Tzalel confirmed on Wednesday that most schools will be closed Thursday, except special education institutions and schools in Jerusalem. Private institutions for pre-schoolers and kindergarteners, and privately owned daycare facilities will remain open.
The striking teachers hope to garner support amid ongoing negotiations with the Finance Ministry over wages, pay for classroom assistants, staff shortages, transportation for pupils and special education. As part of the strike, public services within participating local authorities will not be provided Thursday.
Striking professionals will also include municipal staff from student welfare departments, maintenance, security, waste removal and informal education like after-school programs.
The Education Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that “in light of the local government strike tomorrow, significant disruptions are expected in the educational institutions.”
In participating local authorities, “studies will not be able to take place, with the exception of special education institutions,” and teaching staff will be present at the schools for professional meetings only.”
Institutions that employ professional security staff privately may open schools “according to their ability and will inform the community about it.”
In some cities, school studies may take place online, according to Ynet.
In an interview Wednesday morning, the chairman of the Federation of Local Authorities, Haim Bibas, lashed out at the government and said that “in a civilized country, the Finance Ministry would have come to us (with solutions) after four years of central government instability, when everything is in a near-state of collapse.”
Bibas accused Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich of being untruthful in his claims that no meetings had been held between the parties ahead of the strike announcements.
“I met with him personally with my entire team two weeks ago. I sat with him, no one else did,” he said. Bibas said negotiations were started with the previous government and had been close to concluding when new elections were called.
“It’s exactly the same process, nothing has changed, the only thing that has changed is the finance minister, who it turns out has no influence,” he said.
Bibas, a prominent Likud player in the municipal arena who also serves as the mayor of Modiin, added that the fact his party was in power made no difference to the state of affairs. “The local authorities represent everyone… We need a grown-up to take charge, I’ve called on the prime minister to take the reins and start running things.”
The National Parents’ Organization urged the parties to negotiate a quick solution.
“We call on the prime minister and the finance minister to sit down with the chairman of the local authorities and immediately come to solutions,” said the organization.