Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has accused the Minister of failing to commit to the Minor Works Scheme for schools in favour of rolling out long term projects which will not even begin in the lifetime of this Government, and may not even come to fruition at all.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “Minister O’Sullivan’s failure to prioritise the Minor Works Scheme in favour of long term projects, which may never even see the light of day, speaks volumes about where this Government is at. It’s so focused on making promises to win votes it has not even considered the massive imposition it’s placing on parents by refusing to sanction funding for the Minor Works Scheme this year.
“Parents across the country have been supplementing the running of their children’s schools through voluntary contributions, which in many cases, have been increasing year on year. The Minor Works Scheme was automatically included in education budgets delivered by previous Government; however it was suspended under Fine Gael and Labour and was only temporarily reinstated for the 2014/15 school year.
“This scheme provides essential funding to schools to allow them carry out repairs and upgrades to school classrooms and buildings as well as buying new equipment like computers, printers and projectors as well as PE equipment. Without the Minor Works Grant, schools are losing an average of €52 per pupil. Without it, parents are being forced to pay for these works through fundraising and voluntary contributions. Parents are already being squeezed by high back to school costs and should not be expected to take on the burden of charges for facilities that should be funded by the State.
“Before announcing grand plans and wish lists which will take years to deliver, the Minster and the Government should be focusing on the issues that are affecting parents and children right now. The Minor Works Scheme helps to ensure the smooth running of hundreds of schools across the country and I am urging Minister O’Sullivan to make it a priority in the upcoming Budget”.