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The new school year will begin on schedule. The Union of Local Authorities yesterday retracted its threat to disrupt the opening of the school year, after government ministers promised to find a way to absorb cutbacks of NIS 85 million in Education Ministry funding for local authorities.

It remains unclear what will happen with the planned budget cuts for 2009, which local authorities say total NIS 280 million.

Yesterday's meeting between union officials and the prime minister, finance minister, education minister and interior minister ended in a decision to cover this year's state budget cuts.

But educators and administrators are already beginning to worry that this "solution" may well come at the expense of the Education Ministry's budget.

Tamir said at the meeting, "We have no place left to cut. We will not agree to touch the budget earmarked for instruction hours."

A joint committee from the Prime Minister's Office, Education Ministry and treasury is supposed to determine how the NIS 85 million budget cut will be covered within the next few days.