Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Education & Skills Charlie McConalogue says parents will be forced to pay for essential upgrade works in schools following the exclusion of the Minor Works Grant from the Department of Education’s 2014/15 Primary Grant calendar.  The grant, which provides funding for maintenance and upgrade works, was temporarily re-instated after being suspended in 2012. The Donegal Deputy is calling for the Minister to restore the grant on a permanent basis.

Deputy McConalogue stated, “This grant is essential for the upkeep and maintenance of schools right across the country.  The suspension of the grant two years ago created a substantial backlog in the number of schools needing urgent improvements.  Many were forced to run up huge debts to pay for essential works like roof repairs, window replacement and toilet upgrades after the grant was rescinded. The basic allocation of €5,500 per school alleviates some of the financial pressure on management however, the axing of the grant this year will see schools relying on loans or having to ask parents to foot the bill for any additional work.

“This is not a sustainable solution to the problem. Families are already stretched, crippled by spiralling prices, taxes and charges.  A recent survey by Barnardos revealed that it costs around €360 to send a child to primary school, with the cost rocketing to €750 for a teenager in secondary school. These high costs make it almost impossible for parents to supplement school repair programmes, which should be provided by the State.

“The scrapping of the Minor Works Grant, along with the Summer Works Scheme has left many schools in a state of disrepair. Instead of once-off announcements, we need to secure permanent ring fenced funding to upgrade and maintain our schools without burdening parents.

“I have launched a petition calling on the Minister for the Education Jan O’Sullivan to reinstate the Minor Works Scheme permanently and without delay.  It is imperative that these programmes are restored by the Department to take the pressure off parents, schools and students”.