A plague o’ both your houses!The superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, Kwak No-hyun, who has clashed with the government over his radical reforms, finds himself at the center of another controversy, this time for his role in the antiprogressive movement.
The Seoul Education Office announced a revision to its superintendent property management regulations that would establish residences for the superintendent and deputy superintendent.
It cited a need to entertain guests and employ security for the superintendent. Whatever the reason, the proposition has caused many to scratch their heads as it goes against his liberal and antibureaucratic platform.
Many local governments and education offices have been closing down executive residences. Some have sold them off or used them for other public functions.
Daejeon and Daegu sold their executive residences, and the North Chuncheong Education Office has turned its executive residence into a boarding residence for foreign English teachers.
It is beyond understanding why the Seoul Education Office wants to go against the trend and build a new residence at this stage.
Moreover, the city’s budget is already tight after it decided to push ahead with the controversial plan of providing free school lunches for all lower-grade elementary school children.
The lunch subsidy budget of 116.2 billion won ($102.3 million) came at the expense of a 185 billion won cut in the budget to repair and renovate school facilities.
Many plans to renovate school grounds, increase classroom space and fix restrooms and other facilities had to be shelved.
We cannot understand where the office would find money to build and manage new residential homes for their senior officials.
If the budget allowed for it, there would be nothing wrong with a superintendent living in a posh state property.
The governor of North Gyeongsang has converted the first floor of his residence into a hall to entertain foreign envoys and businessmen, but a house to protect the superintendent from his or her opposition forces is a poor excuse.
A residential home is not that urgent. This superintendent is still new to his job.
Kwak should spend more time in his office trying to come up with a plan to offer a better school and learning environment for students in Seoul.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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