Principals warn over crisis in funding

Thu, Nov 29, 2012, 00:00

Schools may be forced to close because of funding cuts, primary school principals have warned.

An end to funding for day-to-day maintenance was going to put pressure on budgets, meaning some were having difficulties paying for heating, insurance and essential repairs, says the Irish Primary Principals’ Network.

“Schools are going to run out of money. Some will be refused an overdraft from the bank. They won’t be able to pay the ESB bill or the oil and they will have to close the school,” said Kieran Healy, a principal at St Colmcille’s primary school in Templemore.

The Department of Education confirmed it was unlikely the minor capital works grant would be given to schools in the coming years.

‘Minuscule’

An emergency grant was available for unforeseen problems which might stop a school from opening, said the department. But this funding was “minuscule”, said Enda McGorman, spokesman for the network and principal at Mary Mother of Hope national school, Clonee.

“On top of this . . . 46 per cent of schools are already operating on a deficit before the dropping of this funding means it will plunge schools into dire straits,” he added

Primary schools were already under pressure because of cuts to their capitation grants, which funds the running of schools, said Mr McGorman. Increased costs, such as water charges, meant even less money.

Fewer parents were able to pay the voluntary contribution and asking parents to fundraise was also becoming more problematic.

“We don’t have any other sources of funding. They have . . . drained away and we have no control over costs,” said Mr McGorman.