Shekel money bills.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Education Ministry asked hundreds of teachers this week to return a part of their salaries due to a calculation mistake it made.
Some 500 teachers who took part in the ministry’s New Horizon reform program, aimed at raising teachers’ salaries, were shocked to discover they were being asked to return money, some from up to several years ago when they first joined the program.
According to the Education Ministry, the teachers involved will have their salaries gradually reduced in order to return the excess funds. The Teachers’ Union, however, objected to the move, and though discussions were under way between the two organizations, no agreement has yet been reached.
“The Teachers’ Union will not agree to a situation where the Education Ministry calculates the salaries paid to teachers a long time ago, and now, after so many years, seeks to offset the payments,” the Teachers’ Union said.
The Teachers’ Union added that it was contemplating filing a law suit against the ministry on behalf of the teachers involved.
“About three weeks ago I was notified that I had to return a sum of around NIS 95,000 because of a miscalculation on their [the Education Ministry] part regarding my rank in the New Horizon [program],” Moran, a second-grade teacher, told Army Radio on Monday.
Moran said that she was unaware of the calculation error as her salary was already “low” – she received NIS 4,200 per month for her work as a full-time teacher including the overpay. According to the Education Ministry’s calculations, her salary should have stood at only NIS 2,900 per month.
“The truth is that if I had known that I was making such a low salary, I am not sure I would have continued [teaching],” she said.
Moran said that while the ministry accepted responsibility for the miscalculation “they say they cannot do anything [to help] in the matter.”
As such, she said she was looking into what options she has not to repay the funds, which she said she had used over the years to pay for her mortgage and for her family expenses.
In addition to the miscalculation of the wages of the 500 teachers, an additional 5,000 teachers were found to have been underpaid, and the Education Ministry said it would ensure the educators receive the extra payments required by law.
“As part of oversight measures, undertaken by the ministry’s accounting firm (when initiating the New Horizon program) it was found that some 500 teachers were overpaid, while another 5,000 teachers were paid less than they are entitled to by law,” the Education Ministry said.
“As such, it was decided to make the necessary adjustments to these two groups. The teachers whose pay was low will receive the extra payments required, and the teachers who received excess payments will have their salaries gradually reduced so that it does not exceed one quarter of their salary,” the ministry explained.