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[Archive] Different rates for salary adjustments in aided schools

LEGCO QUESTION NO.1(ORAL REPLY)

 

Date of sitting : 7.11.2001



Asked by : Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung

Replied by : SEM

Question :

With effect from the last school year, recurrent subventions to aided schools are provided in the form of a block grant. Items paid out from the grant includes the salaries of clerical staff and janitors, but not the salaries and allowances of teaching staff. The grant is adjusted annually along with the price changes in the preceding year. As Hong Kong experienced deflation last year, aided schools have accordingly received lesser amounts of grant this school year. As a result, less money is available for paying the salaries of clerical staff and janitors. On the other hand, teaching staff received a salary increase this year in line with the pay adjustment for civil servants. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the reasons for not adopting the same mechanism to pay the salaries of teaching staff and other staff of aided schools;

  2. of the respective total numbers of clerical staff and janitors currently employed by aided schools; and

  3. of the measures it will adopt to improve the situation in which two different sets of salary adjustment mechanisms exist in a school as a result of the Administration's subvention policy?

Reply:

Madam President,

  1. The practice of using a block grant to cover the salaries of administrative/clerical staff and janitors was introduced in secondary schools in 1973 and was later extended to primary schools and special schools. The objective is to allow schools flexibility in determining how ancillary services should be provided. Schools may choose to procure services or directly employ staff. They also enjoy full flexibility over the number of staff to be employed and the terms of employment. Indeed, some schools have chosen to contract out cleansing and security services and reduced the number of directly employed staff. Schools may also keep a surplus up to the equivalence of 3 months' provision. As a quid pro quo to the increased flexibility of a block grant, schools do not enjoy the same security of financial provision as with a deficiency grant.

    Unlike administrative/clerical staff and janitors, there are strict requirements in the Code of Aid governing the establishment and qualifications of teaching staff and the salary scales. Salaries of teaching staff within the approved establishment of aided schools are funded from the Salaries Grant and are paid according to civil service salaries. Teachers' salaries are therefore adjusted in line with the civil service salary adjustment.

    In September 2000, the various administration grants and non-salary recurrent grants were consolidated into the Operating Expenses Block Grant (OEBG). The OEBG provides aided schools further flexibility in the use of resources by removing the constraints on transfer of funds among grants in the General Domain (i.e. schools now enjoy total flexibility in the virement of funds between constituent grants). It also helps to simplify the administration by integrating the constituent grants, which were introduced at different times in the past and were adjusted using different indices. Under the OEBG, schools are allowed to accumulate a larger reserve equivalent to a maximum of 12 months' provision.

    The OEBG for the 2000/01 school year was based on the rates of the constituent grants approved for the 1999/2000 school year, notwithstanding a 4% deflation between 1999 and 2000, as well as the lowering of the mid-point salaries of clerical staff following the review of civil service entry salaries in 2000. For the 2001/02 school year, aided schools received broadly the same provision under the OEBG, as compared to the notional constituent grants had the OEBG not been introduced. This notwithstanding, given the downward adjustment of 1.1% of the OEBG, in line with the CCPI movement, we have, in response to strong requests from schools, made an exceptional one-off advance to aided schools. The allocations to schools for the 2001/02 school year have therefore not been reduced.


  2. With the introduction of a block grant, schools are no longer required to report to Education Department the number and salaries of staff employed. However, based on the claims for provident fund or mandatory provident fund received, we gather that about 12 000 administrative/clerical and janitor staff were employed in aided schools as at September 2001. We do not have any breakdown by rank, as schools have complete discretion in determining the terms of employment which do not necessarily follow the civil service pay scales.


  3. It is not uncommon for staff of the same organisation, including government departments, to have different terms of employment and salary adjustment mechanisms. Contract staff, for example, do not necessarily receive annual salary adjustment during the contract period. We have fully explained in (a) above the reasons for maintaining different subvention arrangements for teaching and ancillary services.