Gary Gannon TD

The Government is completely removed from the reality of the financial pressures faced by schools across the country, according to Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon.

Deputy Gannon, who is the party’s education spokesperson, said:

“The results of a poll carried out by the Catholic Primary School Management Association are extremely concerning. A survey of 1,440 primary schools found that more than 70 per cent of them had run a deficit over the past 12 months due to increased costs and a shortfall in grant funding.

“Many of the schools had to rely on cash reserves to cover basic expenses such as light, heat and transport. This has led to a situation where some schools have had to either increase or reintroduce voluntary contribution fees for parents, which we all know are never really voluntary.

“Schools are not immune to cost of living increases, with over half of those surveyed having to fundraise to cover basic utilities like energy bills. With many pupils coming from backgrounds blighted by poverty and deprivation, it is unconscionable that schools should financially struggle to keep the heating on during the winter months.

“This Government, and Education Minister Norma Foley in particular, continue to gaslight principals, teachers and parents by insisting that there are no problems in our schools.

“Despite worthy initiatives like the schoolbooks scheme and the expansion of free hot meals, this survey shows that principals are being forced to rob Peter to pay Paul to keep their schools running, with parents expected to make up for funding shortfalls.

“This is a case of the Government giving with one hand and taking with the other.

“Minister Foley has been too busy focusing on things like smartphone bans for pupils and has ignored the everyday reality of life in our schools.

“It is clear that capitation grants for schools have failed to keep pace with inflation and skyrocketing running costs. Schools must be given financial certainty in Budget 2025 to allow principals and teachers to concentrate on children’s educational needs instead of worrying about paying the bills.”

June 4, 2024

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