Schools will continue to turn to parents for financial support as another 1% cut to day-to-day funding goes ahead — despite an economic upturn that was not expected when it was flagged three years ago.
The Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) said the fourth successive cut to capitation payments based on pupil numbers would severely compromise a school’s ability to maintain facilities, provide a warm building, and pay its bills.
The latest tranche of four successive annual cuts to non-pay budgets means the amount paid to a typical primary school has fallen from €200 to €170 per pupil, although the total grant paid to growing schools may increase.
IPPN president Brendan McCabe said what started out as voluntary contributions which schools had to seek from parents four or five years ago have become more like bailout funds to help pay for basic operating costs.
Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan acknowledged the sacrifices being made, but said the Government can give certainty that this is the final year of cuts to the capitation grant.
“We really have the basis here for an end to what [were] reduced budgets and what [were] difficulties for the education sector. This is the beginning of a new era in that regard,” she said.
The cut would have saved €3m if enrolments in schools remain unchanged next year, but accounting for increased pupil numbers the total payments will still be around €2m more than in 2014.
Education and Training Boards Ireland said it was disappointing that the 1% cut to schools’ was going ahead.
Fianna Fáil education spokesman Charlie McConalogue said the omission of funds for a minor works grant would leave the average primary school with a hole of €9,500 for running repairs next year,.
The Department of Education has said a decision whether the grant, which was not paid in two of the last four years, would be given this school-year, would depended on analysis of capital spending.
Ms O’Sullivan said there would be a €530m spend on education capital projects in 2015, including €450m on schools, €55m on third-level projects and €18m on public-private partnerships.
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