The president of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), Jesus Manuel Ortizdenounced this Thursday that, of just over $4.6 billion from the Emergency Relief Fund for Elementary and Secondary Schools (ESSER) allocated to the Department of Education (DE), only 35.2% has been used, for which is likely to have to return money.
Furthermore, Ortiz, accompanied by other PPD politicians, repudiated in a press conference the alleged lack of planning that prevails in the DE, for which he blamed the designated secretary. Yanira Raices Vega.
“Here, billions (of dollars) have arrived since 2017 for recovery. The question we ask ourselves is why the money has not been used”said the representative, for whom “the result of not having planned anything” are the recent government efforts to mitigate extreme heat in schools, despite the fact that high temperatures have hit the country since at least April.
Raices Vega, through the DE spokesperson, Alexis Ramosrejected the slowness in the spending of ESSER funds.
The official explained that, of $349,113,105 received in the first phase, $333,130,635.68 have already been spent, and explained that they have until April 2024 to use all the funds. In a second phase, she added, the agency received $1,320,626,161, of which $1,124,849,533.20 has already been used.
At the press conference, Ortiz and the PPD legislators Jose “Cheito” Madera, Sun Higgins Square, Deborah Soto, Juan Jose Santiago and Javier Aponte Dalmau They reported that, in the districts they represent, there are schools that were not attended to prior to the beginning of the academic year, even though they require improvements.
As an example, they mentioned that, at the Gilberto Concepcion de Gracia school, in Carolina, there are 12 classrooms without air conditioners, the court has no roof and there are no water sources. They also pointed out the Antolin Santos Negron school, in Naranjitowhose students will be without classes for 15 days because the campus will be painted soon.
Meanwhile, Aponte Dalmau and Santiago accused Raices Vega of allowing “politicking” in the ED and, consequently, in the schools. According to Santiagofigures who would aspire to elective positions in the 2024 elections are already visiting schools and commenting that they are going to “resolve the issues”.
Meanwhile, Aponte Dalmau argued that Raices Vega has not delivered the necessary documents to evaluate his appointment and, therefore, a public hearing date has not been set with a view to a possible confirmation.
“Here, it is more than demonstrated that the priority of Secretary Yanira Raices “It is not the education of the country, but rather advancing political causes for the New Progressive Party,” said Aponte Dalmau.
In reaction, the ED spokesperson stated that Raices Vega “delivered all the documents and did the psychological test that the (Senate Appointments) Commission requires.”