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Saradha school plea for takeover

Siliguri, Aug. 27: Lincolns High School that was being run by Saradha Educational Enterprises Limited till last year has written to the government and Justice Shyamal Sen Commission urging that the state either acquire the institution or hand it over to a private investor.

The co-educational school in Karaibari on the outskirts of Siliguri town has over 800 students from Class I to Class XII and is affiliated to the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination.

In November 2010, the school was taken over by the Saradha Group from a Siliguri-based businessman. After that, till 2013, it was being run by Saradha Educational Enterprises Limited of Saradha Group.

“From March 2013 (after the Saradha scam broke), we have been confronting acute financial crisis and running the school somehow,” Shampa Dutta Roy, principal of Lincolns, said today. “We submitted a letter to the commission in the middle of last month and later, another letter was sent to the state education department, requesting intervention to save the school. We have urged the state to acquire the school or hand it over to an investor or education group.”

Last year, funds from the Saradha Group dried up and several teachers and non-teaching staff members, who had invested in schemes floated by the firm, lost money. Sources said the total amount was around Rs 50 lakh. In May, Dutta Roy submitted a complaint to the north Bengal office of the commission saying around 30 lakh that the school had deposited in three bank accounts of Saradha between March and April had been withdrawn. Later, the state formed a managing committee with the Darjeeling district magistrate as the head. Other members of the body are the principal, subdivisional officer, Siliguri, district inspector of schools, a representative of the North Bengal University vice-chancellor, three teachers and two parents.

“On an average, the monthly expenditure of the school is around Rs 14 lakh and the total collection as fees is about Rs 12 lakh. It is running with a deficit of Rs 2 lakh for the past one-and-a-half-year,” said a source.

The father of a Class VII student said: “The school has 70-odd employees. The state should think about the students and take steps.”