More money is urgently needed to fund primary schools - that was the message that came from more than ten principals from the Newbridge area, who attended a special meeting this morning.
Sponsored by the Catholic Primary School Managers Association, the breakfast meeting was attended by Deputies Martin Heydon and Fiona O'Loughlin and the Ceann Comhairle Sean O'Fearghail.
St. Conleth Infants’ and St. Conleth and Mary’s Board of Management hosted the meeting to highlight the crisis with school capitation funding.
"Over the last number of years cuts to the capitation grant have cost schools almost €110m. According to the Chief Inspector’s Report Government spending per pupil has fallen by 15% since 2010 and Ireland is now spending less per primary pupil than the EU or OECD average. According to a recent report by Grant Thornton the Capitation Grant now covers an average of only 52% of the running cost of a school," said a spokesperson.
The principals pointed out that last year, parents and local communities paid at least €46m to support their local schools. They said this payment is a stealth tax on parents.
"That works out at an average of €14,000 per primary school or €82 per primary school pupil for so called free primary education. Primary Schools cannot be run on 92 cent per pupil per school day," they added.
They called on the government to honour the state’s commitment to free primary education and begin immediate restoration of the Capitation Grant in this year’s budget to €200.
They asked it to relieve schools of the worry about maintenance and have Minor Works Grants paid every year as a non-discretionary payment by Government.
The principals also urged the government to guarantee a phased programme of increases to the capitation grant to match actual school running costs.
In response, the spokesperson said Sean O’ Fearghail, who serves on a board of management, understands the issue and will actively pursue it in so far as is appropriate for his role.
"Fiona O’ Loughlin as the chairperson of the Oireachtas committee on Education and Skills explained that the committee has this item on its agenda for the summer. They will be highlighting this issue as one that is of primary concern to principals and parents of young children," added the spokesperson.
"Martin Heydon as Chairperson of the Fine Gael parliamentary party has tabled this item for discussion by the party. He will lobby the Minister for education Richard Bruton."