Sat | Nov 18, 2017

Education ministry rejects claims by St Andrew High School for ‎girls

Published:Tuesday | August 8, 2017 | 11:28 AM
Education Minister Ruel Reid.

The Ministry of Education has rejected claims by the St Andrew High School for Girls that no attempt was made to contact the institution before it was named among schools charging exorbitant fees.

See full statement below from education ministry:

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information wishes to state for the record that an August 3, 2017 press release issued by the St. Andrew High School for Girls is misleading in a number of areas.

1. The Board of Management claimed that no communication was made with the school prior to Education Minister Ruel Reid naming the schools as being in breach of the government’s non mandatory auxiliary fees policy.

This is not true. An officer from Region 1 attempted to reach Principal Mrs. Sharon Reid by telephone about the statements in a letter she issued to parents regarding parent support contributions but her phone went unanswered. Consequently, a voice message was left asking her to get back in touch with the officer. As a follow up, a memorandum highlighting concerns in the letter sent to the parents by the school’s administration was sent via email for the attention of the Principal.

Subsequent to a radio interview with the Minister of Education, Youth and Information on the non-compliance of some schools with the non-mandatory fee policy and prior to the publishing of the press release by the St Andrew High, dialogue ensued with the Principal via telephone on the matter highlighting the concerns of the Ministry as referenced in the memorandum. The Principal was advised to check her email for the written correspondence.

2. The letter sent to the parents signed by the Principal, though detailed, alluded to the need for funding to offset the payment of part-time teachers. This was misleading as it did not include the fact that $11,400,000.00 was provided by the Ministry to cover this cost. A reminder letter sent to parents also advised that school charges were overdue and implied that students may be prevented from getting certain documents from the school if the non-mandatory contributions were not made. This is in breach of the Ministry’s policy.

3. In relation to the provision of information on the school’s finances, St. Andrew High School for Girls has tried to meet the submission dates in most cases. The Ministry is in receipt of their latest audited reports (2015-2016) and their annual budget. However, we did not receive the income and expenditure reports as requested by the Ministry prior to the start of the 2016/2017 school year. To date, those reports have still not been submitted. The Regional Financial Controller has been in touch with the bursar who has communicated her intention to submit the document.

4. In respect to the claim for outstanding salaries, the Ministry is aware, based on discussion with the Principal that the contracts of 14 teachers were not processed in time to support her request for locum tenens for the period 2015-2017. The Regional Office intervened and this resulted in nine of the contracts being processed and sent back to the school to support their claims for locum tenen.

The remaining five files have been delayed due to further processing by Evaluation Qualification Committee (EQC), which advises on the accreditation of the degrees of the teachers and how to pay these teachers. In the interim, steps were taken for the outstanding sum to be advanced to the school whilst the claims are being processed.

The Principal is aware of this arrangement. 5: With respect to the part-time support, St. Andrew High for Girls submitted claims for a total of $10,066,927.86 for part-time funding for September 2016 - March 2017. A decision was taken to send $3,523,282.74 of this amount to the school and it is at the Accountant General’s Department for processing.

The claims for April to May have been received by the Regional Office and is being verified for further processing and subsequent payment. It must be noted that prior to the issuing of their correspondences to parents for the academic year, all schools were sent Bulletin 77/2016 and Bulletin 82/2017 advising that the Parent Support Contribution is not a mandatory fee and therefore parents who are unable to afford same must not be led to believe that the contribution must be made for the child to be registered to start school or to benefit from the programme of education and related services.

They were further informed that if, as a result of this position of the Ministry, there is a shortfall in their budget, the MoEYI was prepared to work closely with all administrators to ensure additional funds were allocated to fill the deficit.

The procedure to access this support is to write a letter to the Permanent Secretary requesting consideration for this additional support to close the deficit. This letter must be accompanied by all the supporting documentation and a reply will be provided within ten (10) working days. The allocation of the funds approved will be made within a month of the request being approved by the Permanent Secretary.  

The Ministry wants to ensure that we provide all the support necessary for our schools’ administrators and students to be fully accommodated in the best way possible, in order to allow for the smooth re-opening and full operation of school for all our valued stakeholders.