Some parents with children at Victoria Junior have slammed school head, Rameck Mashuro and the School Development Committee (SDC) of colluding to make decisions that are neither in the interests of the school nor popular with parents.
Parents who spoke to TellZim News complained they will from next term be paying $115 for day scholars after the SDC and the school head allegedly colluded to mobilise outsiders to rubberstamp their own decision to increase the fees at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at the beginning of November.
“They announced the date for the AGM after making sure what they wanted would pass. Many people with no children at the school were mobilised and they came to the meeting and voted for the fees increase. Many genuine parents boycotted the meeting because they knew that nothing that Mashuro and his SDC want ever fails. It’s a compromised relationship,” said one female parent.
Another one said it was unfair to raise the fees when the school recorded several instances of over expenditure in the previous budget.
“The money used for meetings this year ballooned two fold from the budgeted $3 000. How do you justify that? The problem is that the headmaster has captured the SDC which he is now using to do his own bidding. The SDC ignores all that and instead, chooses to increase the fees.
“The salary bill for school employees is too high. They say they are spending $150 000 in salaries for less than 30 workers and only a fraction of the boarding money is being declared,” the parent said.
TellZim News established that the school budgeted $3 200 for meetings for the year 2018 but by the end of September, $6 078.76 had already been used for meetings. Moreover, the 2019 budget has now allocated $6 000 to that area, an increase of almost 100 percent from the previous budget.
Victoria Jnr School had also spent $114 162.85 on its 26 workers as on September 30, meaning each employee gets just under $500 per month on average. The school expects to raise $33 750 boarding levy from over 130 boarding pupils next year, each paying $535 total fees.
When contacted for comment, Mashuro refused to talk about the issues, saying he was not allowed to discuss such issues with the media.
“You can talk to my superiors because I am not allowed to speak to the press on those issues. You are free to go and talk to them,” said Mashuro.
SDC chairperson Thomas Mbetu, however, said those allegations were being peddled by people who were using dirty tactics to campaign for positions in the next SDC elections scheduled for February 2019.
“The SDC and the school head do not determine school fees. Parents themselves vote for what they want. Every parent was free to come to the AGM and make an input. The majority of those who came voted for the new fees and those who stayed away chose to do so own their own accord. Should the school cease to operate because some parents have boycotted meetings? We understand people are campaigning for positions but it’s not wise to make unfounded allegations,” said Mbetu.
He said $115 per term was reasonable for a school with higher standards to sustain and more facilities to maintain than any other public primary school in the city.
On the issue of over expenditure on meetings, he said the committee could not withhold funds when there were genuine need to release them.
“For example, we cannot stop the school head from traveling to a meeting called by the permanent secretary or the minister. It is not the SDC using that money. The burden of proof lies on those who allege misappropriation of funds. The books are open for all to see,” Mbetu said.