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Hutton's forced to close branches

Published:Saturday | March 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Philip Hamilton, Gleaner Writer

Hutton's Educational Unit may be forced to close its education centres in Linstead and Spanish Town as a result of financial difficulties.

Director Neville Hutton, in admitting that the institute was encountering cash-flow problems, said it was seeking to curtail operations at these locations as part of cost-cutting measures brought on by the global economic crisis.

He said staff at both branches, as well as officials from the Ministry of Education, had already been informed of the intention to close the facilities.

According to Hutton, the institute had been experiencing difficulties collecting school fees as the recession had left several parents broke.

He pointed out that parents of several students, who owed outstanding fees to the institution, had asked for time to make payments.

It's difficult

Hutton declined to say what the outstanding sums were.

"Since this (recession) started, we could not collect our school fees. It's difficult. We have staff to pay; we have light and water bills. These are fixed costs that you can't get away from," said Hutton.

The institution, which has been operating for 15 years, runs centres in Kingston, Portmore, May Pen, Linstead and Spanish Town.

The director, while declining to provide a figure, said the outstanding fees would be collected now that the much-publicised problems with CXC fees had been resolved.

He gave the assurance there would be no recurrence of the incident that almost prevented approximately 1,000 students from sitting CXC examinations in May and June this year.

The situation arose because Hutton's was late in paying over students' examination fees and was facing penalties of $4 million.

Asked how he intended to pay the fees owed to the Overseas Examination Commission if the institute was broke, he responded by saying: "Don't worry. If I have to move Heaven and Earth, it will (be paid)."