Carol Nolan TD

Ancillary grant debacle deepens as schools scramble to pay for vital services

– 17-04-2024

Independent TD for Laois Offaly Carol Nolan has raised the emerging funding crisis confronting primary and post-primary schools because of the complete absence of funding from the Department of Education for caretaking, maintenance and cleaning services.

The Independent TD raised the matter with Taoiseach Simon Harris in the Dáil. Deputy Nolan recently described the situation that schools are facing as deeply invidious with many schools now scrambling to assess how they are going to fund vital services for the forthcoming academic year:

“Since I first raised this issue, I have been contacted by an increasing number of both primary and post-primary schools within the constituency that are simply baffled by the heartless approach being adopted the department,” said Deputy Nolan.

“Initially the impression was that schools had to choose which services they anted funded, secretarial or caretaking and maintenance. However, it is now becoming clear that the situation is far, far worse that we thought.”

“Schools now have no control or discretion around ancillary payments particularly in situations where the secretarial costs are covered by the department. This means, that even if they wanted to, schools can make no adjustments to provide for the payment of caretaking services.”

“What the department is essentially telling schools is that, look we paid for your secretary so now you are on your own when it comes to other vital services. It is a kind of sink or swim approach that beggars’ belief.”

“This will force schools to run at a deficit if the funds to pay for these services cannot be obtained through fundraising or parental contributions, which no school wants to rely on as they are keenly aware of the pressure parents are under.”

The Independent TD had previously highlighted a survey by the Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA) that found ‘seven out of ten primary schools have run at a deficit at some stage over the past 12 months and have had to rely on cash reserves to cover day-to-day costs due to insufficient core funding from the State.’

“This absurd situation must be resolved as a matter of urgency. We cannot have primary schools panicking about where they are going to find the resources to ensure that basic works are covered,” concluded Deputy Nolan.