Shortage of armed guards expected in new school year
Students in some municipalities, including the nation's capital, could find themselves guarded by unarmed security personnel when the school year starts at the beginning of next month, Education Ministry officials warned members of the Knesset's Education Committee Wednesday.
The committee held a special session during the otherwise quiet summer recess in order to examine preparedness for the start of the school year.
"Due to delays in the process of certifying security guards - which is taking longer this year than in prior years - it is likely that during the first few weeks of class, unarmed guards will be placed at a number of institutions," explained ministry Director-General Shimshon Shoshani.
Approximately 4,500 guards are currently at various stages in the certification process according to Shoshani.
Committee Chairman MK Zvulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) promised that his committee would hold an additional hearing on the issue.
He said that not a single educational institution should be left without an armed guard.
But the situation in the rest of the country paled in comparison to the crisis in the capital.
In Jerusalem, Shoshani warned, the problem was more acute, as a lack of personnel resulted in there not being enough guards to place in all of the capital's schools.
Shoshani said that his ministry was trying to raise the set salaries of school guards in order to aid in recruiting additional manpower.
The Israel Police's head of coordination with security guards said that the problem was only likely to be solved after the end of the holiday period, sometime around mid-October, and agreed with Shoshani that a main problem was that the low salary budgeted for the position led to a reduced applicant pool.
In other school-related news, Dr. Liza Rubin of the Health Ministry said that the ministry expects higher levels of absences due to the swine flu epidemic, both among students as well as teachers, and that they will prepare clear instructions to staff as to how to reduce levels of infection.
The Education Ministry said that in September, more than 100,000 addtional students will study in the coming school year than in the previous year, when a total of 1,400,076 students were enrolled in ministry-sanctioned schools.
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