By: Gerome Dalipe
STATE auditors urged the Iloilo Provincial Local School Board to formulate a three-year program indicating strategic prioritization policies.
This, after the Commission on Audit (COA), discovered that the Capitol’s school board failed to formulate its strategic prioritization policies by the joint circular issued by the Department of Education, Department of Budget and Management, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Thus, the Special Education Fund (SEF)’s planning and budgeting process was not observed, which resulted in not determining to fund for programs, projects, and activities, but just lumped in “other subsidies.”
Each release was based on the request of the school’s PTA officers or principal, posing risks that priority programs and projects for other schools might not be implemented due to lack of allocations and requests.
“The absence of policies posed a risk that some urgently needed programs and projects might not be implemented or financed because of oversight, discretionary approval of the requestor in its absence,” read the COA report.
Sec. 5.0 of DepEd-DBM-DILG Joint Circular 1-2017 provides for the planning and budgeting of the Special Education Fund by the Local School Board (LSB).
It also states that the LSB shall formulate a three-year program indicating strategic policies in the allocation of SEF to schools taking into consideration equitable sharing, priority needs, among others.
The purpose of SEF planning and budgeting is to make sure a more strategic and efficient use of resources for priority programs and projects which would complement, as well as reinforce the budgeting priorities at different levels of decision-making.
In the report, the auditors said the review of the 2018 SEF budget showed that it was not presented using the SEF budget form.
There was no ranking of priority and specific identification of the programs and projects and the recipient schools.
Thus, there was no reference on what priority programs and projects were to be implemented to discuss the gaps or needs of the public schools in Iloilo.
The last budget for 2018 for the item “subsidies-others” in the SEF was P120, 204,687 of which P119,582,622 was obligated.
The allocations were based solely on the grant of the approved request of the school’s principal or Parent Teachers Association (PTA).
A representative for LSB admitted the three-year program indicating strategic prioritization policies in the allocation of the SEF to schools was not formulated.
The co-chairperson was the one who determined the priority among the requests received.
She also said that there was no written policy or criteria that served as the basis for selecting and approving requests.
In the report, the auditors asked the governor to direct the Provincial Local School Board to formulate a three-year program indicating strategic prioritization policies.
The school board is also asked to coordinate with the concerned government agencies, municipal and City Local School Boards to carry out the planning and budgeting activities for the SEF.