Did summer feel short to you? For the first time in history, Israeli schools didn’t start on the first of September. Starting on the 27th of August gave us back five extra days of vacation during the last school year.
My vacation went like this: New York niece came for 3.5 weeks, husband and son went to the US for 10 days, we all went on a family vacation, and school started. So summer passed quickly despite the terrible heat and humidity. Today has been the first pleasant day in two months.
My youngest two started fourth and sixth grades. Last year, their schedules coincided five out of six days each week, even though one had two late days and one had three. I didn’t expect such luck this year, but they came home with a note announcing that all children, from grades one through six, will end at the same time. Ending times are earlier than last year: 1:20, 2:15 (Tuesday/Wednesday) and 11:30 (Friday) insteady of 1:45, 2:30 (0-3 random days) and 11:50.
The earlier times also work for parents whose kids are in gan (preschool) until 2 PM (see more on that below).
I called the vice principal to ask where the extra 15-25 minutes are going each day—are recesses being shortened? She explained that most schools end at 1:20 PM, and in our school, teachers had been working an extra 15 minutes a day without pay. To understand this you need to know about “teacher hours,” which is the way the education ministry budgets class times and teachers’ salaries. I told the vice principal that I’d still like to know what my children did in school last year that they won’t be doing this year. She answered that one of the recesses was shortened! She then mumbled that she was in the middle of something and would get back to me shortly.
The principal herself called me back, and indeed recesses are being shortened. She said other state-religious schools in the city had the same problem, and related it on an attempt to imitate the hours of the semi-private schools but without a corresponding budget.
The school also set up a schedule with parallel math and English classes for each grade. This way, kids with special needs can get more help.
In other school news, I bought a lot fewer books thanks to the book borrowing program. The kids even bought their own school supplies they needed and went on their own. I had to buy for my highschooler, and the store worker said that most local schools didn’t participate in the new program. But students at my daughter’s old high school got books for free. I paid NIS 280 per child.
For those of you with 3-year-olds in the municipal preschool system, I hope it is going smoothly. A neighbor told me that the municipality kept 4- and 5-year-olds in the same locations, placing new ganim for 3-year-olds in ganim out of the neighborhood. So at 2 PM, the kids will have to walk a kilometer home after having neither napped nor eaten. I don’t envy parents in this situation, especially if they have other small children. I heard on the radio that the education ministry will let parents pick up children early, but only until January first. By that time the children are supposed to have acclimated.
In personal news, my second son is out of the army (as is my older son). He plans to work and start university courses.
Parents, did you get any surprises on the first day of school?