The Education Ministry is reconsidering the public school schedule in an attempt to adjust it to suit parents' work schedules, said Education Minister Shay Piron to parents who contacted him on Facebook.
The issue was pushed to the forefront again by the approaching Lag Ba'omer holiday – schools are closed for two days, even though offices are still open.
The ministry is unlikely to be able to change the vacation schedule considerably, since collective wage agreements with teachers guarantee a certain number of vacation days. Given the cutbacks, paying teachers to add more days of classroom time is unlikely to happen.
Teachers have opposed past initiatives to cut into their vacation time, partly because they often use some of that time to attend mandatory job training.
One option would be running elementary schools and preschools with reduced staffing on certain days, so that they function more like a summer camp. Classes would not be held these days, and the teachers staffing the schools would receive additional pay.
Last year, the Education Ministry and the Histadrut Labor Federation estimated that adding five work days to teachers' schedules would cost the state another NIS 350 million to NIS 500 million.
Many parents have called on Piron to cut back on school holidays in keeping with Israel's work holiday schedule.
"Lag Ba'omer is eating up two of my vacation days," one parent wrote to Piron on Facebook.
Piron responded, "You're right, giving children two days off for nothing is not justified and is inappropriate. The vacation schedule needs to coincide with parents' vacation schedule, to the extent possible," he said.