Tamir Vows School Will Open on Schedule in Sderot

The school year will open as scheduled in Sderot, Education Minister Yuli Tamir announced Friday, following agreements reached at a meeting with the parents' committee of Sderot.

However, the committee warned that failure to meet the parents' demands as promised could jeopardize the opening of schools in the rocket-weary town.

"We reached an agreement on the conditions under which we will be able to open the school year in the town," Tamir announced after the meeting. "During the discussion Friday, we went over the security arrangements at every school. Under that heading, it was decided to renovate all the shelters at education facilities, to increase the number of protective spaces. In addition, we undertook to build 6 new schools in the town."

In response to the parents' demands, the ministry agreed to build more than 50 protected bus stops throughout Sderot. The number of school buses will also be increased, so students will spend less time comuting. Sderot mayor Eli Moyal will specify the number of buses needed.

Despite the agreements reached, Tamir added that, "The residents are still requesting that the defense minister examine the situation and make an explicit announcement that Sderot's schools are safe." Indeed, the parents' committee is demanding to see a signed contract with a company that will install sheltered bus stops around town, and to receive evidence of plans to build new schools including budgets for their construction.

The High Court of Justice is due to rule in three weeks on whether to grant the state's request to allow schools to operate without full protective measures. Schools can legally open for now, but the Education Ministry and Sderot municipality are looking into alternatives should the court shut down some schools. One option under consideration is studying in two shifts.