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Half of all high-school teachers will receive an NIS 8,000 bonus for excellence, the finance and education ministries agreed yesterday.

This agreement is the breakthrough needed to complete the negotiations with the Secondary School Teachers Union over the Oz L'tmura reform. In response, union head Ran Erez rescinded his threat to scuttle the proposed reform.

Oz L'tmura calls for having teachers work 40 hours a week at schools, up from the current 24, and giving them a 42% raise in return. This comes on top of the 10% raise being granted to all public sector workers.

A similar reform called Ofek Hadash (New Horizon ) already has been implemented in elementary schools.

Teachers will spend most of the additional hours working with students in small groups or individually. Only a few hours will be added to classroom instruction. In addition, the reform includes special benefits for outstanding teachers, allowing them up to a 30% salary increase.

Negotiations between the treasury and the union are continuing in an attempt to reach an agreement this week and have it signed soon. The negotiations started in December 2010. The two sides met yesterday afternoon. The union declined to comment.