A Herzliya school is sharply cutting tuition for a middle school scientific leadership track starting next year, due to the city's decision to provide most of the financing.

Students admitted to the scientific leadership track at Yad Giora middle school this year are being charged NIS 6,000. But Herzliya Mayor Yael German said last week that admission would be set at NIS 1,200, the same as the school's other tracks.

German said she did not want to keep capable students out of the new program due to the cost.

"We decided that the best students would be admitted to this class. It's worth it because we need that excellence," she said.

The city is providing an estimated NIS 100,000 annual subsidy.

Flouting the Education Ministry's ban on such selection, the school conditions admission to this track on personal interviews, in order to ensure each student's commitment.

Haaretz's report a few days ago on the "scientific leadership" class cited parents' complaints about the exorbitant tuition and an Education Ministry official who said public education should maintain equal opportunity.

German also decided to set up a municipal committee including Education Ministry officials, teachers and parents to examine policy vis-a-vis special tracks in other Herzliya schools. The committee will review the admission criteria and tuition.

The city also decided to help finance extra-curricular scientific studies for all its students starting in third grade.

In addition to the "scientific leadership" program, Yad Giora has a regular track whose students study 35 hours a week for NIS 1,200 a year, and a "future" class, whose students receive an additional six to eight classroom hours per week, for NIS 2,800 a year.

In another development, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar yesterday announced amendments intended to protect the state education system, regarding the recognition and funding of new semi-private schools

Under the new regulations, the minister may refuse to recognize a "recognized unofficial" school (a term referring to ultra-Orthodox or other non-state schools) if it threatens state schools.

The minister may consider not recognizing a non-state school if it could harm the state education system by leading to schools' closure or reducing the number of students, classrooms or teacher posts.

Non-state schools that are recognized by the ministry may receive up to 75 percent of state-school funding.