The state government owes crores of rupees in arrears to the 130 schools run by the Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE) in Mumbai. Around 300 principals from ABE schools, who met on Thursday to discuss the issue, now plan to approach other school trusts to take up the issue of non-payment of non-salary grants.
The government stopped paying non-salary grants to aided schools — for telephone and electricity bills, office stationery among other things — in 2004.
“Instead of only the Catholic schools taking a decision or going to court, we thought we would consult with other schools as well. We plan to fight it out,” said Father Gregory Lobo, head of the ABE.
Of around 150 ABE schools, 130 are aided and entitled to non-salary grants. Lobo estimated that every school has to get Rs4 lakh to Rs5 lakh from the government per year, since 2004.
“Schools run by corporate groups can pump in the money, but what about schools run by charitable trusts?” asked Father Francis Swamy, principal of Holy Family School in Andheri, who estimated that arrears at his school would come to Rs7lakh or 8 lakh per year. “At this rate, we won't be able to go in for innovations and improvements and our schools will fall into disrepair.”
The lack of funds has hit infrastructure development and has forced some to raise fees by charging students under ambiguous heads such as “activity fee”, said school authorities.
The state said it has been unable to pay the arrears because of a poor financial situation. “The arrears would run into several crores. We are discussing the issue with the finance department,” said a senior education department official.