Schools to pay the price as essential works scheme is scrapped – Smith

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has accused the Education Minister of attacking primary schools by reallocating vital primary funding to third level projects.  Minister Jan O’Sullivan has reassigned €35m to the third level sector, essentially ending any possibility for the roll out of the Summer Works Scheme in 2015.  Hundreds of parents across Cavan and Monaghan will now be forced to pay for repair and upgrade works in their children’s schools.

Deputy Smith commented, “The Summer Works Scheme provides important funding to carry out small and medium scale upgrade and improvement works such as gas, electrical and mechanical works, roof and window repairs and structural work to upgrade school buildings.  The Minister’s decision to redirect funds, which would’ve covered the cost of these works for dozens of schools across the two counties, will result in teachers, management and parents having to find alternative ways of raising the cash.

“The scheme was scrapped in 2012 by then Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and has never been permanently restored.  The scheme was approved ahead of the local elections in 2014, but now that the Government is no longer under immediate electoral pressure, Minister O’Sullivan has allocated this money to third level projects.

“The Summer Works Scheme is a vital resource for hundreds of primary schools across the country, including dozens in Cavan and Monaghan.  Last year more than 1,600 schools applied for a grant to carry out essential works.  This year all of those schools, along with many others will be forced to raise the revenue through other means to fund these projects.  Some schools have already run up huge debts to cover the cost of essential repairs and parents are often asked to contribute through “voluntary contributions”.

“Minister O’Sullivan’s decision to ignore the Summer Works Scheme will cost schools and communities dearly.  Even a portion of the €35m underspend has the potential to make a huge difference to the primary sector.  Instead primary schools across the country will struggle to maintain and improve their buildings, with parents and management being forced to foot the bill for any work that is needed”.