Local Authorities in Iceland to Shorten School Year Skip to content

Local Authorities in Iceland to Shorten School Year

By Iceland Review

Representatives of the Association of Local Authorities in Iceland (SÍS) recently met with Minister of Education Katrín Jakobsdóttir to examine the possibility of temporarily reducing the number of elementary school days as a rationalization method.

From an elementary school in the West Fjords. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

“It is a tragic discussion. We can’t forget that this is an intervention into the lives of children and teenagers and their opportunities never come back,” commented Eiríkur Jónsson, chairman of the Icelandic Teachers’ Union (KÍ) to Fréttabladid.

KÍ is absolutely against this rationalization method.

Chairman of SÍS Halldór Halldórsson explained that the idea is related to the so-called five-percent method, which has been discussed among local authorities recently. Municipal employees can then take ten additional days off per year in exchange for five percent lower salaries.

“According to law, there should be 180 teaching days in one school year. Our suggestion is to shorten the school year by ten days like it was a few years back. I allow myself to say that this shortening might not have a negative impact on students,” Halldórsson stated, explaining that significant amounts could be saved this way.

“We have to keep in mind that the crisis will be long and therefore the local authorities’ level of service has to be reviewed and everyone has to participate,” Halldórsson added.

In 2007, the local authorities’ total expenses on operating elementary schools amounted to almost ISK 45 billion (USD 353 million, EUR 253 million). The largest cost item is salaries and related expenses, which accounts for two thirds of the total cost.

The ratio which the local authorities spend of their tax revenue to operate elementary schools ranges from 12 to 75 percent.

Jakobsdóttir said she hasn’t made a final decision regarding the ideas of SÍS. “I want to hear all viewpoints and discuss it with [representatives of teachers and municipalities] again.” The minister said everything is being considered during the extensive cuts that lie ahead, but “the big issue is to think about is the interests of students.”

Click here to read more about the financial difficulties facing local authorities in Iceland.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!