Classroom Reduction Plan to Cost NIS 9B

The cost of reducing the size of all classes, from grades 1 to 12, could exceed NIS 9 billion - according to a study released yesterday by Jerusalem's Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel.

Most of that amount will be for one-time expenses, but the study predicts that full implementation of the plan will add about NIS 2 billion to the annual education budget. These estimates are considerably higher than the amount the cabinet approved for the plan, approximately NIS 2.3 billion (exclusive of the cost of building new classrooms, which is still unknown).

About two weeks ago the Education Ministry announced that it would begin implementing the classroom reduction plan in 600 schools (200 elementary schools, 200 middle schools and 200 high schools) next year. Ministry officials say the plan will be realized in all schools within 10 or 12 years.

The Taub study concluded that a total of 7,500 new classrooms and about 17,000 additional teachers will be needed to obtain full implementation. "As it is, the education system has a hard time finding suitable candidates for its open teaching positions," said the report, which was conducted by Nachum Balas. "Thus, the educational system will be forced to compromise on the quality of the new teaching staff."