After partially settling the water arrearages incurred by the police, the Quezon City government has again turned its attention on the electric and water bills of QC’s public elementary and secondary schools.
Already, Mayor Herbert Bautista, who also heads the local school board, has approved a supplemental budget of P156.75 million to fund payment for utilities and other priority needs of QC schools during the last quarter of the year.
Of the total appropriations made, P51.23 million is for the payment of the electric, water, telephone and internet consumption of QC schools from October to December this year.
There will also be payments made for the upgrading of electric lines at Gen. Roxas Elementary School, Esteban Abada Elementary School, Tandang Sora National High School, Manuel Roxas High School and Payatas A Elementary School, in the amount of P1.6 million.
As of September 30, the special education fund had already obligated more than P100 million as payment for utilities. The amount still excludes payment of prior year obligations for water and electricity amounting to P30 million which had already been paid this year.
QC government took upon itself the responsibility of paying for the utility consumption of QC schools after learning that the funds granted by the national government for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) is insufficient.
The city started granting full subsidies for the water consumption of QC schools in the elementary level since 2002, and, starting 2009, for the secondary level.
According to reports submitted by the QC school board, there are about 30 public elementary and 27 high schools in QC with insufficient MOOEs. Most of these schools, officials said, are located in District II, which constitutes majority of the city’s urban poor communities.
To date, the Philippine Elementary Schools Principals Association (PESPA) and the Principals and Supervisors Association (PRINSA) of Quezon City have continually pressed the Department of Budget and Management to increase the national fund (MOOE) allotted for QC schools, especially in the secondary level because their current MOOE is no longer responsive and realistic to meet the demands for quality education.
“Given the increase in enrolment, high cost of utilities, additional school buildings, improvement of facilities, upgrading of equipment, and the imposition of the “no collection policy,” and the rationalization law, there is a need to increase the appropriation for MOOE from the national government,” PRINSA said in its petition.
As this developed, the QC school board directed public schools in the city to take responsibility in paying their own telephone and internet connections starting 2012 because appropriations for this purpose will be given to them by the national government.
Meanwhile, to safeguard city government resources against loss or wastage, the QC school board has created a task force on utilities management to minimize the expenses for water and electricity consumptions. Precy/ Ej/ Maureen Quiñones, PAISO