Who is responsible for paying the school bills?

Let’s take stock of a highly topical issue, in light of the reckless increase in electricity and gas costs, in consideration of the fact that educational institutions throughout the country use thousands of state-owned properties and in the light of the (EU) Regulation 2022/1369 of 5 August 2022 which provides for measures aimed at reducing natural gas consumption in the period 1 August 2022 – 31 March 2023 and the “National Plan for the containment of gas consumption” approved by the Ministry of Ecological Transition (MITE) on September 6, 2022.

The national plan.

The National Plan for the containment of gas consumption “approved by the Ministry of Ecological Transition (MITE) on 6 September 2022 provides for containment measures in the heating sector and a set of measures for the efficient use of energy, also addressed to the Public Administration and therefore to schools.

In addition, the guidelines “Energy saving and efficiency in the office – Operational guide for employees” prepared by the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development – ENEA were issued.

The recommendations are addressed to all stakeholders:

  • The owners of the buildings (local authorities) are called to plan structural interventions, which must aim at improving the energy efficiency of buildings and systems;
  • Employers must equip offices with efficient equipment, provide a comfortable and sustainable working environment, and adopt a code of conduct that promotes the containment of consumption;
  • Employees, on the other hand, must adopt a virtuous lifestyle, more attentive to reducing waste;

Consumption overview.

According to the guidelines: “Office buildings represent about 10% of the entire Italian real estate stock. About 30% of their energy consumption is due to the use of artificial light, 25% to heating, 16% to equipment, such as computers, printers, faxes, copiers and scanners, 9% to summer air conditioning and 9% for heating domestic water “.

Structural interventions for energy efficiency.

To clarify the crucial aspects relating to the payment of electricity and gas utilities of educational institutions, it is necessary to recall the provisions of Legislative Decree 297/1994 also known as the Consolidated Education Act which clarifies the competences and related responsibilities in the matter, between schools and institutions locals.

In particular, in art. 85 provides that: “The municipality exercises in the field of school construction the tasks assigned by state and regional legislation that are connected to nursery, elementary and middle education. The province carries out in the field of school construction the tasks assigned by state and regional legislation that are connected to upper secondary education and vocational training. The subject of school construction in elementary and middle school also includes charges for furnishings and equipment ”.

It is therefore up to local authorities to plan and implement structural interventions, which must aim at improving the energy efficiency of buildings and systems.

Payment of utilities.

The reference standard on the matter is art. 3 of L. 11 January 1996, n. 23 “Rules for school construction” which, dispelling all doubts, provides that the municipalities and provinces also provide for various office and furnishing expenses and those for electricity and telephone utilities, for the supply of water and of gas, for heating and related systems “.

The art. 107 of Legislative Decree 297/1994 provides, with reference to the charges relating to the maintenance and management of state nursery schools, that: “The maintenance, heating, normal management costs and custody of the buildings of state nursery schools are the responsibility of the municipality where the schools are located “.

The art. 89 also specifies, with reference to the open areas and the gymnasiums annexed to school institutions, that: “The areas and gyms are considered school premises for the purposes of maintenance, lighting, custody, administration of heating and the supply of water to be part of local authorities “. In fact, even for these premises, the payment of the relative utilities is up to the local authority (Municipality or Province).

Therefore, the Municipalities provide for the payment of the utilities of the schools of the first cycle of education, the Provinces for the schools of the second cycle.

In practice, second-cycle schools often provide for utilities by anticipating financial resources, and then request the final reimbursement from the local authority that owns the properties.

Payment of utilities for extracurricular activities.

For the performance of extracurricular activities, by private subjects, third sector bodies or public bodies, just as an example, consider the concession of the gym premises to amateur sports associations, the use of equipment as well as the payment of consumption water, electricity and gas must be governed by a specific agreement with the local authority that owns the building used for school use, which may possibly also provide for the payment of a flat-rate fee.

It will therefore be possible to foresee, in fact, a double case: payment of utilities at the expense of the user or at the expense of the owner of the building, with or without payment of a fee.

Who is responsible for paying the school bills? – Horizon School News