Private schools seek subsidy

Three of Cayman’s private schools have written letters to Education Minister Alden McLaughlin requesting additional funding from the government.

The Minister did not identify which schools had requested the money, but he said each of the schools asked for individual grants which amounted to ‘millions of dollars in the medium to long term.’

The Cayman Islands Government currently makes a contribution of $900,000 each year to the Private School Association. Mr. McLaughlin pointed out, with nine private schools now operating in Cayman that money doesn’t go very far.

‘The government is not averse to reviewing the amount we give to the Private School Association,’ Mr. McLaughlin said.

However, any offers to increase those funds could come with strings attached.

Under Cayman Islands law, private schools may be inspected in the same manner as public schools. But those inspections only happen if the private schools agree to them.

‘I believe, In relation to any assisted schools, that government needs to see what the budget is,’ Mr. McLaughlin said.

Cayman’s Education Law is expected to undergo a review in the coming budget year, and Mr. McLaughlin said inspections are one of the issues which will be looked at.

The Minister also ruled out the possibility of giving individual grants to schools, which he said was simply too expensive.

‘That is a track down which we will not go,’ he said. ‘Once we approved one…what do we do about the others?’

Mr. McLaughlin said he believes the private schools, in addition to facing financial pressures, are concerned about the government’s effort to improve the public school system.

‘They are very, very worried about the impact of that,’ he said.

The Minister said his ultimate goal is to place the public education system on par with private schools, so that the quality of a child’s education isn’t dependent upon how much money their parents have.

‘Both of my children are in private school,’ Mr. McLaughlin said. ‘I thought they would get a better education. I want to remove that factor from the decision of any parents to come.’