CEBU Gov. Hilario Davide III appealed to the Department of Education (DepEd) yesterday to fast-track the repairs on classrooms, as the rainy season approaches.

“If DepEd is ready, the Province is ready to help DepEd,” Davide said.

Classes in towns badly hit by typhoon Yolanda in northern Cebu are being held in tents, on stages and in the shade of trees, while nearly 400 classrooms await replacement or repairs.

In Cebu City, Mayor Michael Rama ordered administrators of the Sapangdaku Elementary

School to vacate the area, following the suspension of classes last week when the Guadalupe River near the school overflowed during a heavy rain.

Rama said he also wants the City Council to declare Sapangdaku and Barangay Busay under a state of calamity, so that emergency funds can be used to make their public schools safer.

The mayor met yesterday with DepEd Cebu City Schools Superintendent Rhea Mar Angtud, the local school board and barangay leaders, among others, to discuss what steps the City and other concerned offices should take.

In his regular news conference, Rama told reporters he doesn’t want to compromise the safety of the school children.

“We’re not in control of the environment; we don’t know what will happen in the coming days, that is why the safety of the children is our focus,” Rama said.

Governor Davide said he was informed by Dr. Arden Monisit, Cebu Provincial Schools Division superintendent, that repairs on some of the schools in the north are ongoing.

In an earlier interview, several of the mayors said there are ongoing constructions of classrooms in their towns, with the help of non-government organizations like the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. and Swiss Caritas.

The Province’s rehabilitation plan was already approved by the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery Cabinet Cluster last May 30. It is just awaiting the President’s approval and the release of the funds.

“Ang problema pud lagi, maybe sa national hinay kaayo ang pagdowload sa pundo (Probably, what delayed DepEd’s repair of the schools was the National Government’s slow downloading of the funds),” Davide said.

He said the Province is ready to help with additional funding or to provide some tents.

The governor, however, also said the classroom repairs should have been done earlier, before classes resumed.

For his part, Rama has asked Sapangdaku Barangay Captain Lorna Damalerio to allow the teachers to hold classes in the barangay hall, while City will start the groundwork for a temporary school that will be built where the basketball court stands.

Damalerio said the school can use the rooms on the second and third floors of their newly renovated barangay hall as temporary classrooms. Tents will also be set up outside the hall.

The school has some 500 pupils.

Angtud told the parents that they are allowed to transfer their children to other schools near the barangay.

DepEd has advised the parents to transfer their children to the Napu Elementary School, which is also located in Barangay Sapangdaku, or to the Guadalupe Elementary School.

As for the Busay Elementary School, Rama tapped the help of some private contractors to assess the location and the school buildings.

A portion of the school stands on a cliff, near a river, which the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has declared as landslide-prone.

The assessment of the contractors will be the basis of the City Government’s next step.

Initially, the City, through the local school board, is planning to buy a lot near the school, which will serve as the new site for the facility.

Last week, Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella inspected the schools that had been declared unsafe. He also asked the MGB to update a report, which the office released in 2007, to guide the City on how to address the problem.