Schools left without heating

Many towns and villages in northern and central Greece have yet to receive funds from the central government to heat their schools next year, as a teachers’ union yesterday warned that some of them may have to close down rather than let pupils shiver.

“Many schools are facing serious problems with heating oil supplies and it won’t be long before they will have to suspend classes because of the cold weather,” the Teachers’ Federation (DOE) said in a statement yesterday.

The federation slammed the Ministry of Interior for delaying the disbursement of funds. It also criticized municipal authorities, which are responsible, in collaboration with so-called school councils, for the schools’ operational needs, such as heating.

DOE demanded that heating subsidies be granted directly to schools without the interference of municipal authorities. It also appeared to criticize the lack of transparency in the administration of finances by local government officials (OTA).

“The unjustified delays, the varying standards in the funding of each school and the absence of any monitoring (to establish, for example, if oil is being used to heat schools or other municipal buildings as well),” DOE said, all suggest the need for a change in the legal framework.

Schools are still waiting for the fourth, 20-million-euro installment to meet their operational needs. Total funding for schools went down from 110 million euros in 2011 to 80 million this year.

Greeks pay a special consumption tax on heating oil that makes up about 42 percent of the total cost. School councils have unsuccessfully campaigned for an exemption from the tax.

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