By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
While they wait for the return of students to the classrooms and subsequently after-school sporting activities, Government Secondary Schools Sports Association coaches and officials are hoping that the Ministry of Education will pay them the monies owed for their services already rendered.
When contacted, Director of Education, Marcellus Taylor said they are aware of the situation and are working towards an amicable agreement with the parties involved and, at the same time, they are seeking to restructure the programme so that there is more transparency in what they are all doing.
Apparently, Taylor said while they provide a stipend of $1,500 per sporting discipline for their physical education teachers to engage in the after-school activities, there are those who are trying to abuse the system.
“We’ve had to take a look at the programme because we know that there have been bills that have been inflated, in terms of the number of games that the officials have been participating in and what they have presented to the ministry,” he said. “We are reviewing the matter and, in short order, we will make the necessary payments to the parties involved.”
Taylor, however, could not say exactly when the funds will be payable to the officials.
One official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said since 2018, they were not paid for working with the soccer programme in the schools. Another basketball official, who also wished not to be identified, said they are owed money starting in 2019.
“Some persons, who have since retired, are still waiting on their money,” one of the officials said. “We have people who worked the last National High School Tournament in Grand Bahama in 2019 have not been paid yet either.”
One of the officials said with no activities, except for track and field taking place last year due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, they were hoping that the Ministry of Education would have paid them the money owed.
“We were owed our money from before the pandemic,” the official said. “No one seems to care. People work and they deserve to be paid in a timely manner. We all need our money in these tough economic times.”
When contacted, GSSSA president Varel Davis noted that she’s aware of the arrears having submitted the worksheet on a timely basis, but the matter is out of her hands. She referred Tribune Sports to the ministry.
Evon Wisdom, who heads the Sports Division in the ministry, said they are looking into it.
He noted that the financial report has been submitted to the relevant authority in the ministry, but they are just waiting on the payment to be distributed. Once they would have paid off their bills, Taylor said they will restructure the programme where they will work through the local associations or the federations in the distribution of the funds to the officials.
“We will invite the sporting associations or federations to make the application on behalf of the officials and we will disburse the funds to them so that they can distribute it to the officials,” he said.
“In that way, they will be responsible for the number of games that each official will participate in and they will determine which officials and who is paid whatever amount they deem necessary.”
The GSSSA is hoping to have the matter resolved as soon as possible as they are preparing to resume their after-school sporting activities this year in the midst of COVID-19 with the possibility of hosting a track and field meet.
But all of that hinges on when the students will fully return to the classrooms and can continue with some sort of normalcy.