~All contract workers to go home ~
EBENEZER–Chairperson of the Foundation for Academic and Vocational Education (FAVE) Roland Duncan is “seriously considering” closing the doors of the Preparatory Secondary Vocational Education (PSVE) section of St. Maarten Academy due to the financial situation facing the school as a result of the lower subsidy being received, due to the sharp drop in enrolment over the years.
Duncan told The Daily Herald on Thursday evening he is reaching a point where he is ready to shut down the operations of the school. The board’s latest financial dilemma is finding the funds to pay the 2019 vacation allowance of workers at its two schools. It is also behind on other expenses. “I would love to take government to court, but that won’t solve the problem because it will take too long.
The board met last night and I am getting to the point where I will tell him (Education Minister Wycliffe Smith) to keep the subsidy and we will shut down the operation,” Duncan said, noting that he is referring to the PSVE school, since this is the school that has registered a drop in enrolment. “I am seriously considering it. If I cannot pay people, what am I going to do? So far, the problem is at PSVE.”
One of the first measures the board will be taking is sending home all contract workers as of July 31. “We have already started by terminating the contracts of all contracted workers. The contracts of these workers will not be renewed. Then, we have a situation where, as a result of the reduced enrolment, we are looking at reducing teaching hours, etc. By doing that, some teachers will lose class hours. Since last year teachers have been not working their full work hours, but are receiving their full pay. They are not working 27 hours because of the double-shift system with the two schools in one complex. We will start taking measures to terminate staffers,” Duncan made clear.
“We are trying to adjust to the reduction of subsidy as is. The decree that is bothering me ends July 31. A new decree (outlining how much subsidy we will receive) has to come out per August 1. Government usually takes until December to take a decision on it. If that happens, I don’t know if I will get the same amount in subsidy that I am getting or whether I will get even less. If I get less, I will have to continue cutting on whatever expenses that we have.
Government doesn’t want us to charge school fees, so if they are serious and if they succeed, then I have no normal source of (income) to stay afloat. It will reach to a point where I cannot operate the school. I will start now so as to not go bankrupt. I am not hoping or planning, but logic will tell you that it will reach a point where you have to close. And I don’t intend to run a government school. Government treats us as if they are doing us a favour by subsiding us, but we are subsidized because government is not doing it themselves. So, if government feels that we are misappropriating funds then I bow my head and will stop doing it and they can do it themselves,” the board chairman made clear.