Not all schools think HC order on revised fee will make a big difference to their revenue. But school managements have reason to be happy as the Court has permitted them to submit fresh proposals for fee structure with additional material and audit statements.
Be prepared for a revised fee structure in the middle of the academic year, if your child is studying in one of the over 300 schools that come under the interim arrangement ordered by the Madras High Court on Thursday.
The 15 per cent increase in fee structure over what was levied by Justice Raviraja Pandian committee for schools is justified, provided schools are following the fee structure stipulated by the statutory panel appointed by the State Government, say parents.
School managements too have reason to be happy as the Court has permitted them to submit fresh proposals for fee structure with additional material and audit statements. While the next step for schools will be to bring in clarity about the fee they would be collecting, for parents it means planning the budget for the new academic year in advance.
“We have not yet received the fee structure for the coming academic year. I paid between Rs. 18,000 and Rs. 20,000 last year, but this is not the fee structure stipulated by any of the three committees. Otherwise, a 15 per cent increase is fair,” said Nagarajan whose children study in the Seventh Day Adventists' School, Vepery.
The Court's order has come as a relief for school managements who have been claiming that they are increasingly finding it difficult to pay salaries to staff and meet other expenses.
“By giving the present committee six months to do the process of collecting particulars from schools and other documents, we hope it would be a more fair process than that adopted by the first committee, which fixed a fee structure for all schools in the State in four months,” said P. Vishnucharan, correspondent of Shree Niketan Group of Schools.
Not all schools think the Court order would make a big difference. Father Xavier Arulraj, secretary of legal cell of Tamil Nadu Bishops Council, who appeared for 80 minority institutions, said, “This is only an arrangement for six months. It will not bring about any big change in the revenue of our schools.”
As the three-year period of the fee structure stipulated by the Fee Determination Committee comes to an end next year, schools hope the change would mean that other schools benefit.
Minority schools that filed writ petitions include C.S.I. group of schools, Don Bosco schools, Rosary Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Sacred Heart Matriculation Higher Secondary School. Other institutions are Velammal Group of Schools and Kalgi Ranganathan Montfort School.
“Our appeal was to allow us to stick to what we were collecting before the Fee Fixation Committee was formed. This academic year, too, we are following the same fee structure we stipulated a few years ago, and we plan to change only next year,” said a school head.
The current chairperson of the Private Schools Fee Determination Committee Justice S.R. Singharavelu is regularly attending to appeals filed by school managements and parents.
Parents such as Joshua Gnanakkan say, “I am not in sync with government setting a fee structure for private schools. When I decide on a school for my child, I know whether that will suit my budget. At the same time no institution should charge exorbitantly.” He added, “The government can set up a monitoring committee to set an upper limit, which is understandable.”