Pupils dressed in sweaters, darkened classrooms and unusual silence in the workshops. Similarly, a lot of people imagined what school teaching might look like in the fall due to the ever-increasing energy costs.
Principals of South Bohemian schools, town halls and regional management are preparing for complications in their operation. But they are not expecting catastrophic scenarios yet. On the other hand, they admit that they will have to take measures to come out with the planned budgets.
For example, in Tábor, the representatives had to approve an increase in the budget for the operation of schools in the city by almost five and a half million crowns at the last meeting.
“The contribution should now correspond to the higher price of consumption. When we were preparing the budget last year, we had no idea that such a situation would arise,” explains Deputy Mayor Olga Bastlová (ČSSD).
At the same time, he adds that it is still an acceptable amount thanks to the fact that the city managed to compete for energy at a relatively good price. Things are better in Jindřichov Hradec, where, however, they are still waiting for the calculations of the new costs of running schools.
“However, we will certainly be able to cover the higher prices from the city’s savings, we have quite a lot of money in the reserves. In addition, in recent years we have invested in insulating buildings and replacing windows, which are far more energy efficient. Even that will help us significantly now,” says the city’s deputy mayor Magda Blížilová (ANO).
Bigger problems do not await in České Budějovice either, where schools should continue to be heated to comfortable temperatures.
“We mainly have a problem with expensive electricity. Our heating plant is coal-fired and it heats most of our facilities, except perhaps at ZŠ Pohůrecká, where they have gas. But we already have that one out for 2023 at a good price, it’s just a matter of there being gas at all,” pointed out Deputy Mayor Ivo Moravec (HOPB).
The region expects to spend one hundred million
Principals themselves usually do not want to make decisions about lowering the temperature in classrooms. According to them, there are ways to save without disrupting the course of teaching itself.
“If I ignore financial assistance from the city, next year we will rather limit the planned repairs and similar investments. Unfortunately, this will also have an impact on the development of our school, but I firmly believe that the problem with energy prices is only temporary,” hopes Jiří Thám, director of elementary and kindergarten in Křemž in Český Krumlov.
Unlike him, however, his colleague from ZŠ Volyně na Strakonicko, Martin Punčochář, accepts the regulation of heating in classrooms, according to which older children should be able to handle lower temperatures.
“Of course, it should not be signed at the level of teaching. We have smaller children in a separate building where we keep the temperature. We certainly don’t want to go below twenty degrees,” assures the director.
They are also looking for a way to save at the South Bohemian Governorship, which manages 125 facilities, including secondary schools, homes for children and youth, or elementary art schools.
“At the moment, we are planning both austerity measures and an increase in the budget. We don’t know the exact amount yet, but in the first estimates we calculated that the operation of all these facilities will cost around one hundred million crowns,” predicts Deputy Governor for Education Pavel Klíma (TOP 09).
Secondary schools and especially educational institutions are the most affected by the increase in energy prices. High consumption of electricity, gas or coke is inevitable in the workshops. However, the region does not want to limit the teaching of vocational subjects under any circumstances. “We have a lot of fields based on practice, where it is not possible to look for savings on similar things,” adds Klíma.
They also found themselves in a similar situation at Písek SOŠ and SOU, where a number of energy-intensive technical fields are taught.
“We have to look for other ways to save on energy. But it won’t work in workshops and practical training, it’s a key part of the teaching for the pupils,” says school director Zuzana Sýbková.
Distance learning is also one of the ways to save money on running schools, with which schools have a lot of experience after the covid pandemic.
“I hope that such a situation will not occur again. If we want to preserve decent teaching conditions, we should not allow learning to take place at home again. There are many practical fields where such a decision could cause enormous damage,” warns deputy Klíma.