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Apr 1, 2019

Catholic Management Explains Where Teachers’ Contributions Are Going

For the past two weeks we’ve shared several stories about the plight of Holy Angels School in Pomona Village in Stann Creek. Since we broke the story, the school has received tremendous support including help from businesses and the public. The school has also been doing its own fundraising activities to generate more funds to address the infrastructural issues at the school. And since we’ve covered the story, one of the issues that have raised the eyebrows of many is the two-thousand dollar cheque that the Priest and local manager Rodolfo Garcia handed over to Holy Angels. The principal made clear the contribution was just a drop in the bucket and that they felt disrespected after years of complaints. So, on Wednesday, when we got an interview with Pastor Garcia, we asked him about those contributions. Andrea Polanco tells us more in the following report.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

On Wednesday, Local Manager of Catholic Primary School in Stann Creek Rodolfo Garcia said that a solution is on the way for Holy Angels Roman Catholic School. But as you know, parents have kept their children out of the classrooms and even teachers are angry that all the management gave to help the school is two thousand dollars. One of the issues that the school has raised is the point of contributions – which are monies between twenty to fifty dollars that the catholic management deducts from salaries – this has been happening for decades before Garcia came to Belize five years ago.  The priest danced around the questions of those deductions but then admitted that he received contributions from the school – he said those contributions have stopped. Teachers claim otherwise. This is a signed pay slip for one teacher which shows that she paid thirty dollars in contributions each month for July, Aug and September of last year. We note that teachers and the management said that not one hundred percent of teachers pay their contributions – one school claims more than eighty percent of its teachers do so. So, I asked Garcia where the contributions are.

 

Rodolfo Garcia

Rodolfo Garcia, Local Manager Catholic School (Stann Creek)

“Do you have any proof – I am asking you?”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Sir, what Holy Angels indicated to me – is that about ninety-five percent of their teachers paid their dues up to December of last year.”

 

Rodolfo Garcia

“Which dues?”

 

Andrea Polanco

“I believe every month teachers – I don’t know if it is forty dollars or whatever amount they give?”

 

Rodolfo Garcia

“Are you sure what you are talking about? Do you have any proof? I can talk and discuss this thing with you when you bring me the proof that the teachers give me each of them forty dollars.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“This what I am indicating – they make a contribution that the schools make every year?”

 

Rodolfo Garcia

“Do you have proof of that?”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, schools don’t make a contribution?”

 

Rodolfo Garcia

“Yes. They do. That contribution has stopped that we are not receiving now because the government take that.”

 

This is a letter that the Catholic Management issued earlier this year – where many teachers sign and commit to a monthly deduction from their salaries – because the smart stream came on board at the start of this year and that has changed the way the contributions are collected. A source alleges that for the month of February alone, over twenty-two thousand dollars was collected. As these figures show: From the bazaar held last month – the raffle earned six thousand six hundred and twelve dollars.  The turkey dinner sale brought in two thousand three hundred and twenty-five dollars; stalls earned three thousand six hundred and sixty dollars and ninety cents and teachers’ contributions were nine thousand eight hundred and thirteen dollars. A little over four hundred dollars was returned to one of the schools in February. Garcia says that the monies that have reached his office go directly to the schools – towards salaries for his staff, fuel to visit the schools and other needs that teachers have.

 

Rodolfo Garcia

“We use that money to run that office that spend in photocopies, papers for the teachers; ink, electricity, water, salaries, social security, visiting to the schools.   We use that money going back to the schools. Also, you need to ask the schools, sometimes not every time, because we can’t, we give support when they need support. When the teachers need it we try to solve for them.   When we prepare a retreat for them – two hundred and fifteen teachers – everyone is invited. We have a retreat and do a snack; have rice and beans and barbecue chicken – everything we do for them. We use those funds to give back to the schools. When they need it we have been helping. When they need a salary advances; my mother died; excuses – I don’t have to pay the electricity; my son is sick can you help me? We have been helping them. Uff a lot. I have the record of that since I have been here and I can tell you that is a lot of money. And that is thanks to the funds that they have with the money that they contribute. So, for this reason I can tell you clear in conscience that the contributions they gave was returned to them.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Are you able to say if there is a portion that your budget for maintenance issues for these schools?”

 

Rodolfo Garcia

“No. From where? Budget from where?”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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