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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Cebu City needs P1B for schools, appeals for help

THE Cebu City Government’s school board wants the National Government’s help as it faces challenges with the full implementation of the K to 12 program starting next year.

With the City needing almost 700 additional classrooms that will cost almost P1 billion to build, Local School Board (LSB) head Raddy Diola said their P385-million Special Education Fund (SEF) this year won’t be enough to meet the infrastructure requirements.

That’s why, Diola said, they are seeking funds from the National Government through the Department of Education (DepEd), considering that the agency has a school building program.

In a news conference yesterday, Diola said 165 additional classrooms are needed for senior high school, a new level, and 68 additional classrooms for kindergarten and Grades 1 to 6 pupils in the north district.

For the south district, he said 181 additional classrooms are needed for senior high school and 253 classrooms for kindergarten and elementary pupils.

The numbers, he said, were provided by DepEd’s Cebu City Division.

For this year, Diola said the LSB had requested for a P500-million budget for the construction of additional classrooms but the City Council didn’t approve it.

Within the week, Diola will go to Manila to meet with DepEd officials to lobby for funding.

He also plans to seek an audience with the private sector to ask for help in the construction of additional classrooms, particularly through an adopt-a-school program.

“We have several challenges so we need to be creative. We will seek the help of the private sector because education is everyone’s business. It is not only the government’s business,” he said.

How much?

Based on the estimates made by LSB engineers, Diola said the construction of one classroom will cost P1.2 million. A four-storey, 20-classroom building will cost P24 million.

According to Diola, the LSB already came up with a standard design for classrooms and school buildings.

Each classroom will have a 63-square-meter area. School buildings will have wider stairways and an open space on the roof deck for school activities.

LSB’s design for the classrooms and school buildings will be presented by Diola when he meets with DepEd officials in Manila.

Also yesterday, the school board’s head said the board is planning to retrofit the lighting in the estimated 150 public elementary and secondary schools in the city, and replace the existing lights with LED bulbs.

This will reduce the schools’ power consumption.

Split bill

According to Diola, the City paid P60 million for the water and power consumption of the schools last year, while a P70-million budget was set aside this year.

Also, the LSB is proposing that the schools shoulder half of the total payables for utilities.

Diola said schools are given by the National Government a budget for maintenance and operating expenses but these are not usually utilized and end up reverting to the national treasury.

“Their budget is not being used because the teachers are avoiding the hassle of complying many of the requirements. So sayang ang money ba (it’s a wasted opportunity). If they shoulder half of the cost of the utilities, at least we can use the money for the construction of additional classrooms. Aside from that, our SEF will not be strained,” he added.

Mayor Michael Rama, in a separate interview, said he is amenable to the matter. If he had his way, he would want DepEd to shoulder the entire utilities bill for the schools.

According to Diola, the City plans to implement the sharing of the utilities bill for schools in school year 2015-2016.

The LSB, he said, will consult the schools’ principals about the matter.
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