Schools in Periphery on Strike Today

Schools in 60 local authorities will go on strike today, to protest the Education Ministry's announced cancellation of an additional NIS 150 million budgeted for high schools in Israel's periphery. The strike covers kindergartens through high school, except for special-education institutions and classes taking Bagrut exams or preparing for them.

A ruling by the High Court of Justice in February 2006 prohibited continued funding according to the "national priority map." Some 1,500 teachers were fired following the announcement.

At a hearing scheduled for Sunday before the High Court, the ministry will ask for permission to implement the budgetary changes gradually, thereby obviating the need for teacher layoffs.

Mayor Shlomo Buhbut of Maalot-Tarshiha, who heads the Forum of Conflict-Line Communities and Development Towns, warnde that the one-day strike would be the beginning of a campaign that would include preventing the opening of the next school year.

"There is no reason to strike or fire teachers, certainly not before the court hearing," said a statement from the Education Ministry. It also said that the special funding is not being cut but rather increased by NIS 55 million.