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The Senate on Tuesday approved on second reading a counterpart bill to HB 474. Approval on final reading is targeted next week before Congress goes on break.
To help public school teachers cover their expenses for school supplies, lawmakers are pushing for a bigger “chalk allowance.”
 A P2,500 increase in “chalk allowance” is being pushed by ACT Teachers Party-List Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro.
They are urging the Lower House to immediately hear and approve their bill increasing the allowance for teaching supplies to the P5,000 per school year.
 Tinio and Castro filed in June last year House Bill (HB) 474 or the “Teaching Supplies Allowance Act” to increase to P5,000 the cash allowance for the purchase of chalks, erasers, forms, and other classroom supplies and materials.
 “Another school year is about to open, and our teachers will again feel the pain of buying chalk, papers, and other supplies they use daily in their classrooms using their own money,” said Castro.
“Congress should grab this opportunity to approve the bill and significantly reduce this burden of teachers,” she added.
 As a former classroom teacher, Castro explained that increasing the allowance to P5,000 “will double teachers’ funds for supplies to R24.75 per school day.”
The “chalk allowance” was only P700 in 2012 but was increased to P1,000, then to P1,500 in 2015.
This year, it was increased to P2,500 due to amendments to the annual national budgets proposed by Tinio and Castro starting with the 2017 budget.
 Meanwhile, Tinio urged the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture, the panel where the bill is pending, to immediately hear HB 474 and endorse it for approval by the House in plenary.
“Along with the chalk allowance, Congress should also increase the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) of public schools,” Tinio said.
“The perennial problem of insufficient funds for the maintenance and operations of public schools is what forces our teachers to buy teaching and classroom necessities out of pocket,” he added.
 The Senate on Tuesday approved on second reading a counterpart bill to HB 474. Approval on final reading is targeted next week before Congress goes on break.

SOURCE: MANILA BULLETIN

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