PHILIPSBURG–Education Minister Wycliffe Smith made it clear on Tuesday that vacation allowances must be paid by subsidised schools as scheduled as these costs are covered by government in the lump sum subsidy given to school boards.
Smith made these comments in his closing remarks during the continuation of a Parliament meeting in the wake of reports that teachers at some schools will not be receiving their vacation allowances. Smith said these reports were “an inaccurate representation of the current situation that school boards and, as a result, that the schools and staff find themselves in.”
“We must at all times be very mindful that the taxpayers’ money must be spent wisely by government and, by extension, by those who receive the funds from government,” Smith told Members of Parliament (MPs).
“Subsidised funds should not be misappropriated and therefore, the vacation allowances of teachers and school staff should be paid by all subsidised school boards as scheduled,” Smith clarified.
Through the lump sum subsidy system, government covers all the costs that are associated with personnel expenses at government subsidised schools. This includes all salaries linked to functions listed in the function book as laid down in the education remuneration decree, vacation salary (which is an integral part of the basic teachers’ salaries as well as benefits and allowances), contributions to pension, and widowers and orphans insurance premiums.
“If for some reason, school boards have not been able to cover their personnel cost although they have been fully compensated for these costs in particular, through the funding model, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports (ECYS) has been and continues to be open to discuss the various options that are available to remedy the issues.
“It must be stated that, although government subsidises school boards for the provision of education, school boards as private entities and employers of personnel, remain responsible for the proper management of allotted funds in such a way as to meet their basic obligations to their employees,” Smith said.
School boards are well versed with the workings of the lump sum system and can plan and project the growth of its schools and the effects that it could have on the subsidy that they will receive. School boards are also equipped and competent enough to enact the necessary measures in order to mitigate financial complications, and to take critical management decisions for the benefit and longevity of the schools and the provision of quality education, he concluded.