11/04/2008

Government Told Primary Schools In Debt

Representatives of Ireland’s primary schools have made a desperate plea for more funding.

Monsignor Dan O’Connor will present an agreed statement from the Catholic Primary School Management Association to ministers in a special meeting with members of the joint Oireachtas committee on education.

The school association has grown deeply concerned as the gap between Government grants and the real cost of running primary schools widens dramatically.

The statement says that for a modern democratic state which claims to be one of the most prosperous in Europe and to be a proponent of a 'knowledge economy' it is completely unacceptable that schools have to resort to cake sales, coffee mornings, super-market bag-packing, sponsored runs, race nights, dream auctions, summer fetes, lotteries and draws, sponsored barn-dances, Christmas bazaars, treasure hunts, spellathons, quiz nights, parental 'voluntary' contributions, loose change collections, uniform-free days, church-gate collections, fashion-shows, and many other local fund-raising activities just to keep schools afloat.

According to the statement: "An increasing number of schools are running in a deficit situation and cannot balance their books."

It shows that even schools, which fall under the Department of Education’s disadvantaged scheme, are in deep trouble and deep debt. Audited accounts for three such schools in Dublin show debts of €21,162 in the first school; €50,259 in the second and a massive €77,876 in the third.

The statement also criticises the government’s budgetary proposal of a €16 per child grant.

The statement says: "The fact that it was almost immediately reduced by a water charge of €3.50 means that schools will receive only €12.50 in the current year. Estimates indicate that an increase of €160 - €175 per child - will be necessary to keep schools properly resourced this year.”

(DW)


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