The governor Pedro Pierluisi He maintained this Monday that the failures that persist in some of the country’s public schools are the result of the years of austerity in which the government has been immersed as a result of the fiscal crisis, but he assured that his administration is working on updating the structures.
“This is not something that happened yesterday. During the years of austerity caused by the government’s fiscal crisis, and under the supervision of the Fiscal Oversight Board, the Department of Education did not receive a significant amount to address problems in school infrastructure. What we have done in this administration is use federal funds that we have had available,” Pierluisi said.
The funds, he added, have been invested to address the problem of short columns and to carry out painting and roof sealing work. “80% of the short columns that had to be repaired have been repaired”he indicated.
He further noted that, “If information arises, wherever it comes from, the deficiency must be addressed and I recognize that we have not yet managed to have 100% of the schools in good condition”.
According to data provided by the agency, during the beginning of the school semester, repair work on short columns is being carried out in 166 schools, a situation that was revealed after the Agripina Seda school in Guanica collapsed following the earthquake that occurred in the early hours of January 7, 2020.”Is there anything left to do? For sure yes. “If there is any signal, it must be attended to,” the governor pointed out.
In recent days, students in the public system have documented, through their social networks, the deplorable conditions in which some schools are found, which lack adequate drainage systems and optimal sanitary services.
The situation has generated multiple reactions, both from the secretary of the Department of Education, Yanira Raicesas of the holders of the Office for the Improvement of Public Schools (OMEP) and the Public Buildings Authority (AEP), agencies in charge of maintaining the campuses.
Pierluisi gave Raices a boost in handling the situation. The head of the agency has acknowledged some of the complaints made by the students, but has rejected that the situation is of magnitude, at least in the case of the Luis Felipe Crespo high school, in Camuy, a school that faces problems in the health system. .
“What I am seeing is that the secretary is very proactive, that she is visiting the campuses not only confirming that there are deficiencies, because there are times when the information may not be correct… and she also shows face to the students and listens to them…”, he declared, maintaining that painting and roof sealing work has been carried out in 70% of the 580 public schools.
“For me it is not important who the messenger is, it is the message. It is also not important how the information arrives, whether it comes from the networks, the media or if it comes from an inspection that was carried out. Wherever it comes from, the deficiencies must be addressed,” he added.
When asked whether retaliation has been taken against the students who have made the complaints, as alleged by the president of the graduating class of the Luis Felipe Crespo school, the chief executive denied these allegations. “At least with the secretary’s approval, no retaliation. Sure, there are rules of conduct on campus about what can be done during school hours or what has to be done afterward…, but there can be no retaliation for that, in the slightest.”, he stated.