No new summer building works funds for schools

The Department of Education is providing no new funding for schools to undertake important building repairs and upgrades this summer.

Instead, nearly 180 schools that could not complete projects under the summer works scheme last year have been re-allocated the €25m for gas, electrical, roofing, and other works.

The 108 primary and 70 secondary schools make up 40% of the 438 that only found out last May that their projects had been approved for inclusion in what was to have been a two-year €80m funding programme.

More than 1,000 schools were unsuccessful with their November 2015 applications during 2016 or 2017, and will now have to wait until next year or beyond.

Education Minister Richard Bruton said that his department is to enter talks with representatives of schools and other bodies to improve the timeline of approving projects after this year. With the high number of projects that did not get finished last year, his department acknowledged that the operation of the scheme could be improved.

In the years that the summer works scheme has operated, schools are sometimes not told until late spring or just weeks before summer holidays, that they have been approved.

This has led to delays getting contractors in place or having the necessary preparatory work done to allow the projects be started and completed while pupils and staff are on holidays.

The minister said engagement will begin shortly with education partners to help develop a better timeline for planning and delivery of summer works projects from next year.

More than 1,000 schools applied unsuccessfully for funding under the summer works scheme in 2015.

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