New School Schedule to See Shorter Summer, Longer Weekends

Israeli children riding to school on an Egged city bus. (Flash90, File)

Changes are on the way to the school schedule in Israel’s national school system, after years of complaints by parents that kids get too much time off for summer and holidays, making it difficult for working parents to arrange for care for their children.

The final proposals for changes to the schedule were presented to the the Knesset Education Committee by a subcommittee that has been working on the schedule changes for the past several months.

Chief among the changes would be making the summer vacation two weeks shorter. School would still end on June 30th, but would start up again on the first of Elul, regardless of the secular date (with appropriate delays for Shabbos that falls on 1 Elul). Lag BaOmer will no longer be a day off from school under the proposals, and the day after Sukkos and Pesach – Isru Chag – would no longer be a day off either.

The school year will not be extended, however – so to make up the extra school days, students will get five “extended weekends,” with no school on Fridays and Sundays. In addition, Sukkos vacation would be extended, such that there will be no classes between Yom Kippur and Sukkos, adding three more days to the vacation schedule.

Summer school would also be extended, with classes held until 15 Av, and during the two-week Pesach vacation and the five days schools take off for Chanukah, which will not be changed.

The subcommittee recommends that the changes be implemented over a three-year period. The expected costs for the program in overtime pay for teachers or substitutes is estimated at NIS 900 million.

Subcommittee head MK Oded Forer called on the Education and Finance ministers to discuss the plans with teachers’ unions. “We have made proposals that will take a significant burden off the shoulders of parents and will assist the economy to grow. There is no need to fear negotiating with teachers’ unions on advancing this plan. If the ministers do not intend to advance this plan, we will do so ourselves,” he added.