|EMSB CALLS ON MINISTRY TO COVER ENERGY COSTS|
MONTREAL, MAY 30, 2001— Faced with $1.3 million in additional costs for natural gas and heating oil consumption this year, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is calling upon the Ministry of Education to cover this unexpected expenditure. Recent media reports suggests that they will do so.
The EMSB’s accumulated deficit is already approaching $6 million. "The government financing we have right now for natural gas and heating oil is simply insufficient," says EMSB Chairman George Vathilakis. "Essentially, if the government does not step in, we will be forced to send dollars up the chimney instead of in the classroom."
From 1998-1999 to 2000-2001, the costs incurred by the EMSB for the purchase of natural gas and heating oil have risen by $1.8 million to the present figure of $4 million. That is an 82 percent increase – for which the board received an additional operating subsidy of less than $150,000. Despite claims to the contrary, government subsidies have not kept up with so-called "system costs" which are cost increases over which the school boards have little or no control.
The on-island school boards are particularly hard-hit by fossil fuel price increases as they tend to use this energy source more than do other school boards elsewhere in the province which rely more on electricity to heat their buildings.
Michael J. Cohen