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The National Labor Court decided on Thursday night to extend the deadline for informing teachers that they've been discharged until June 6, granting more time to efforts to solve a budget crisis that could lead to the firing of about 1,500 teachers in some of the poorest areas in the country.
The budget crisis comes after a February 2006 High Court of Justice ruling that canceled the "national priority areas" method for distributing funds to high schools in the periphery. The map for distributing some NIS 80 million in supplemental funding was deemed unfair by the Court because it heavily favored Jewish areas over Arab ones in education spending, and the Education Ministry was ordered to develop a map that was in keeping with the principle of "equality."
On Tuesday, 15 months after the High Court decision, the Education Ministry announced in an internal memo that it was seeking legal ways to delay implementing the ruling. However, the deadline for firing teachers - a move that would be necessary for dozens of schools if the national priority map were canceled for next year - was only two days later, on May 31.
Principals and educators throughout the country angrily complained about the two days' notice, with ORT Israel Dir.-Gen. Zvi Peleg telling The Jerusalem Post this week, "the High Court ruling came 15 months ago; they couldn't come up with a new [budget priority] plan so I don't have to fire these teachers?" The Labor Court ruling gives one more week to the different groups - the Education Ministry, the Secondary School Teachers Organization and the Center for Local Government - to come up with a solution that would enable the schools in the periphery of the country to afford the additional teachers.