An emergency payment of 8 million euros will be made to municipalities so they can buy heating oil for schools, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday, after local authorities in northern Greece told pupils to stay at home as temperatures plummeted.
Primary and secondary schools in Florina and Naoussa were kept shut on Wednesday due to the cold weather and what officials said was a lack of cash to buy heating oil.
“We have so far received three quarters of the 312,000 euros in state funding for the 54 schools in our municipality,” said Anastasios Karabatzos, the mayor of Naoussa, where the temperature dropped to 3 Celsius. “With heating oil at the price it is today, this money is not enough.”
Karabatzos added that spending rules prevent municipalities from diverting money from other budgeted expenses toward heating schools.
“The schools will open today but we can only heat them for a few hours,” he said.
However, Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis suggested that Karabatzos was exaggerating the problem in order to gain publicity ahead of next year’s local elections.