SHILLONG, March 7 - The Assam Rifles Public School (ARPS), one of the oldest and prestigious schools of the North East, would close down on April 1 this year due to �bankruptcy,� but others claim due to gross financial mismanagement.
The public school was established in 1980 by the then Director General Assam Rifles (AR) Lt Gen Sushil Kumar at Laitkor here.
It is said that the school was established painstakingly, at times even by selling fired ammunition shells from different units of AR, to garner funds.
The CBSE-affiliated school is now run by an autonomous body, the ARPS Society, registered under the Societies Act. The Board of Governors is headed by the Director General (AR) and the School Management Committee is headed by the Additional Director General (AR).
However, now the school management has issued closure notices to its 120 staff and parents of 563 students citing bankruptcy.
The parents were asked to collect the transfer certificates of their wards by April 1 before the school�s closure, as per documents available with The Assam Tribune.
The genesis of the problem lies in payment of staff salaries. The teaching and non-teaching staff drew pay and allowances as per the 4th and 5th Central Pay Commission (CPC). But the school management refused to revise the pay and allowance of the staff and bring it at par with the recommendation of the 6th CPC.
The staff took the school management to Court. After several years of legal wrangling, which finally reached the Supreme Court, the Apex Court decided in favour of the staff in July, 2015.
But the school management has now decided to close down the school claiming its inability to fulfill the Supreme Court�s order, as it was bankrupt.
�The School Management Committee and the Board of Governors have examined the financial health of the school as well as various other options before it, and have concluded that it would no longer be financially viable to run the school after implementing the Supreme Court judgement,� the notice stated.
Sources say, for the time being, all that is required is an amount of Rs 10 to Rs 15 crore to bail this prestigious school out from its present financial mess. This amount can be sourced from the North Eastern Council, Union Human Resource Development Ministry or several other ways, of course with financial prudence.
They add that some of the reasons for the financial mess is the school management�s lackadaisical attitude in revising the annual fees of the students. For wards of civilians the annual fee is Rs 1.2 lakh and Rs 42,000 for wards of Defence personnel. This fee structure has remained unchanged for several years now.
This fee is inclusive of hostel, tuition, books, uniform and all other facilities. The school also boasts of a riding school.
Moreover, sources say, from 1997, the school has transferred money worth crores to the DGAR Accounts Branch, as corpus savings of the school. With interest calculated the amount would have swelled to not less than Rs 8 crore so far.
�Where is that money?� the harassed staff are questioning. They have now appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani for their intervention and also to initiate an inquiry against officials for the current mess and stop the school�s closure.
�We need to retain this wonderful institution so that quality education does not breathe its last this way,� the staff have appealed.