DedEd Baguio eyes realignment to provide generators to all public schools
The Schools Division Office of Baguio City is considering the realignment of a portion of the Special Education Fund (SEF) earmarked for the purchase of tablets for public school students in order to provide emergency generators to more public schools in the city.
This was the response of Schools Division Superintendent Federico Martin to Councilor Vladimir Cayabas’ resolution urging the schools division office to appropriate funds for the purchase of emergency generators for all public schools.
Martin said each school needs more than P500,000.00 for the purchase of an emergency generator set.
He recognized the need to provide generators to all public schools in the city to avoid disruptions in school activities caused by power outages, especially during the rainy season.
However, he said there is no fund under the capital outlay of the schools division office and that its Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) only amounts to P6.9 million which is not sufficient for the purchase, operation, and maintenance of generators to schools. And even if the MOOE and the capital outlay were sufficient, they still could not produce the needed amount as the capitalization threshold is only up to P50,000.00 for the procurement of equipment and facilities, he added.
To remedy the lack of funding, the city division may modify its budget allocation, he said.
According to him, of the P44 million in the Special Education Fund (SEF), P24.5 million can be realigned in order to provide generators to 49 public schools. Eighteen schools already have their own generators provided by the central office during the construction of the school facilities.
He said the schools division office decided to consider recommending to the Local School Board the realignment of a portion of the P44 million since “the funding for the procurement of tablets is sufficient.”
An amount of P20 million from the general fund had been bid out for the procurement of tablets. An additional P9 million from the general fund will also be bid out for the same purpose. For now, these amounts are sufficient, he said.
“One challenge that we have now is the maintenance and the expenses on fuel for the operation of generators. The schools’ MOOE is not enough to shoulder the expenses,” he stated.
Also, he stressed that the general fund given by the city government as financial support to the education sector had been reduced from P64 million to P30 million, so it could not be utilized for the operation and maintenance of the generators; otherwise, other priorities would be sacrificed.
Responding to Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda’s question whether the provision of a tablet for each learner is no longer a priority, Martin said the procurement of the said gadgets shall still continue as soon as various challenges are resolved.
He underscored that the request for funding of SMART Classroom which also includes the provision of tablets and other gadgets and equipment had already been approved.
City Budget Officer Leticia Clemente agreed that the fund initially earmarked for the purchase of tablets might as well be realigned in order to provide the “much needed generator sets.”
“Right now, we cannot provide tablets to all 65,000 public school students in the city. If you compute the total cost at P10,000.00 for one tablet per student, maybe even 10 years is not enough to provide for all students,” Clemente claimed.
Furthermore, Clemente expressed that there is no need for a council action on this matter since it is within the ambit of the Local School Board. She added that the shortage of funding may be addressed by re-appropriating all available amounts in the SEF.
Taking into account all information presented during the session, Cayabas retracted the proposed resolution. **Jordan G. Habbiling