Unable to maintain the required reserved/emergency funds, private schools in the city have asked the UT education department to relax the rules on this provision. According to the Punjab Education Code, applicable to local schools, managements of private schools are supposed to maintain a reserved fund equal to at least six months’ salaries paid to the staff and no withdrawals can be made without the prior approval of the local district education officer.
According to sources in the department, with the exception of two or three schools none of the rest had maintained the stipulated reserved funds.
“The department has asked the schools on several occasions to maintain their reserved funds every year, however none of them have paid any heed to our notices. Maintaining the funds is important as they give financial authority to the department over the private schools and the schools can utilize these funds in case of any emergency situation like during a dispute between the management and staff,” said a senior department official.
On the other hand, private schools seem to have a different point of view. Rakesh Sachdeva, principal of DAV Public School, Sector 15, said maintaining a reserved fund equal to six months’ staff salaries was unfeasible. In most of the schools the reserved funds, to be kept in bank, amount to between Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 2 crore. “Therefore, we request the department to relax this condition to three months’ staff salaries instead of six months’ salaries,” she added.
Vineeta Arora, principal of Bhavan Vidyalaya, Sector 27, said maintaining such a huge fund was practically not possible. “We’re such an old institution and won’t let down our employees. There are several other reputed schools with similar credentials. Hence all these factors must be taken into account,” she added.
Gurpreet Singh Bakshi, general secretary of the Independent Schools Association, however, claimed the education department was wrongly interpreting the law as the provision of maintaining six-month salaries did not apply to private schools in Chandigarh. “Therefore, there’s no question of relaxing this provision”, he added.
Meanwhile, a two-member committee appointed by the state advisory council has also advocated a relaxation of this provision and recommended that the education department accepts reserved funds equal to three months’ staff salaries.
The sources, however, said the department had yet to take a call on the issue as it had been taken up with senior administration officials.