New schools will be permitted to appoint a principal at an earlier stage, under measures to be announced on Monday – by Minister for Education Richard Bruton.
The Minister said new supports, which also include payment of pre-opening capitation funding, would better facilitate the preparatory work involved in setting up a new school.
For the three new primary schools due to open in September 2017, approval will be given by the Department of Education in early 2017 for the appointment of a school principal – in tandem with an announcement on patronage.
Approval is now being given for the recruitment of school principals for the six new post-primary schools that are opening in September next year.
For primary schools opening in September 2018 and thereafter, approval will be given for the appointment of a school principal from January 1st of the year that the school opens.
For new secondary schools, approval for a principal’s appointment will be given from September 1st of the previous school year, ie September 1st, 2017 for new post-primary schools opening in September 2018.
Under current arrangements, a school principal in a new school is appointed from February 1st, at post-primary level, and from June 1st, at primary level – of the year that the school opens.
Mr Bruton said the second element of the improved support was the payment of pre-opening capitation funding for each new primary and post-primary school in recognition of the fact that costs are incurred in the period prior to the opening of a new school.
This funding of €15,000 at primary level and €25,000 at post-primary level will be made available to the patron to hold, on behalf of the newly recognised school.
The patron will be entitled to seek reimbursement of start-up costs incurred in setting up the school, but will ultimately be required to provide details of such costs and any remaining balance to the board of management.
Educate Together – which accommodates children regardless of social, cultural, economic or religious background – said it had been advocating for a sustainable scheme of funding and support for new schools for many years, and that the announcement represented good progress.
The funding would cover about 25 per cent of the actual costs involved in opening a new school, it said.
Additional funding would still be required, but the announcement meant an increase of 50 per cent in funding for new primary schools and introduced funding for the opening of new second-level schools for the first time.
This, as well as permitting the earlier appointment of a principal, were "very positive" developments, Educate Together chief executive Paul Rowe said.
The announcement “provides clarity on the supports available, and enables us to plan for the opening of many more schools in the years to come”, he said.
In September, the non-denominational patron opened five second-level schools and four primary schools in Dublin, Cork, Wicklow and Mayo.
It has 81 primary schools and nine second-level schools, with four due to open in the next two years.