• February 3, 2016
  • 258

Benkunskas on schools: We will not move forward without reaching an agreement

”The draft of local government’s budged is to be approved next week; a lot of focus was put on the educational needs. While choosing the institutions that need renovating, we were not guided by the national matters but the condition of the school buildings” — said Valdas Benkunskas, a guest of Salon Polityczny Radia ”Znad Wilii”.

”A lot of attention will be given to the renovation of both schools and nurseries. We inherited some of the unfinished works from the previous authorities of Vilnius; we have contracts from 2012 signed with the agencies managing European funds” – explained Benkunskas.

As he said, the funds to renovate the educational institutions in Vilnius come from the national investment program. By legislation, the Ministry of Education consults the local government in the matters of facilities that need renovating.

”This year we have received an official document from the Ministry with a request to provide a list of such schools, but at the same time, we have received an unofficial list of schools chosen for the renovation, which was created in the agreement with the Ministry of Education and individual MPs. It is a slightly strange matter, which does not do any good to the honor of the Ministry nor the Parliament” — emphasized the deputy Mayor of Vilnius.

The Ministry representatives claim that the proposals submitted by the MPs were just recommendations.

There is 250 educational institutions in Vilnius. Up until now the central authorities were harming the capital city. If we will not find a nursery or a school in further regions that is located in a non-renovated building, then only 20% of the Vilnius schools will have had gone through the renovation” — said Benkunskas.

As he announced, the local government’s budget draft is to be accepted next week, in which a lot of focus was put on the educational needs. The authorities have the highest hopes for the redistribution of the budget funds, which will take place in the second quarter of the current year. When the privatization of the local government’s property and some of the loans are to be restructured, then the additional funds should appear in the budget.

The Deputy Mayor Benkunskas expressed his hope for the reactivation of the Polish schools in Lithuania funding program, thanks to which 50 percent of the renovation costs were covered by the Polish party and the other 50 percent by the local government.

”Last time a few of the projects were not finished, because the local government’s budget did not consider funds for the co-funding of the schools, but we stay in touch with the Polish foundation and we will try to finish these project this year” — politician said.

Benkunskas said that the matters regarding Vilnius Joachim Lelewel and Wladyslaw Syrokomla   high schools remain unchanged since the September of last year.

”There has been a decision made in regard to the Lelewel school, that it remains as high school until September 2017 – according to the Education Law. In the draft of reorganization, we predicted that the school will operate in one building on Minties street, and at the same time, the request for accreditation of long gymnasium will be submitted to the Ministry of Education. These promises stay unchanged and we are working towards them” — said Deputy Mayor.

”The matter of Syrokomla school is more complicated, as we have received a response from the Ministry of Education that the option chosen by the school — to become an institution of public utility and to apply for accreditation as a Catholic long gymnasium — is impossible, because the second founder is crucial to it, a religious institution. We are carrying out dialogue with the community and the school’s management. If there is a real desire to create a long gymnasium, a legal way need to be found to achieve that.

The school’s community interprets the requirements for the founder in its own way, they claim that the school can become an institution of public utility with just one founder. Until we agree on the interpretation, we will not move forward. I expect understanding from the gymnasium’s community, there are other ways to create a long gymnasium” — said Valdas Benkunskas.

Translated by Karolina Jarmużewska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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