Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
580. Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will ensure that a school (details supplied) in County Sligo will be provided with €50,000 funding to complete essential works on construction of a resource room in view of the fact that the work was commissioned by the contractor for €175,000 but the school only received €120,000 funding; if he will reverse the decision to cut the teaching numbers at the school by one in view of the fact that this will result in class sizes of 34 and more students, and the detrimental impact that this will have on the pupils educational needs and school resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10178/09]
Minister for Education and Science (Deputy Batt O’Keeffe): The school referred to by the Deputy was approved funding of €120,000 for the provision of an additional classroom. The management sought an increased grant toward the provision of additional accommodation over and above that approved.
The school were advised that in the context of the funding available and the number of applications for that funding, their application was not successful. An appeal from the school management is under consideration and a decision will be conveyed in due course.
I have consistently said that the 2009 Budget required difficult choices to be made across all areas of public expenditure. These decisions were made to control public expenditure and to ensure sustainability in the long run. In this respect Education, while protected to a much greater extent than most other areas of public expenditure, could not be totally spared. The various impacts at school level were included in the Budget day announcements. Even with the Budget measures in place there will still be a significantly increased borrowing requirement in 2009.
The budget measures will impact on individual schools in different ways depending on whether enrolment is rising or declining and the degree to which any one school has more teachers than it is entitled to under the allocation processes.
In terms of the position at individual school level the key factor for determining the level of resources provided by my Department is the pupil enrolment at 30 September 2008. The annual process of seeking this enrolment data from schools took place in the autumn and the data has since been received and processed in my Department enabling the commencement of the processes by which teaching resources are allocated to schools for the school year that begins next September.
My Department has written to the primary schools that are projected to have a net loss or gain in classroom teaching posts in September, 2009. As part of my efforts to ensure that relevant information is openly available to the public detailed information on the opening position for primary schools is now published on my Department’s website. This provisional list sets out the details on individual schools that, taken collectively, are projected to gain 128 posts and to lose 382 posts — a net reduction of 254 posts. It is my intention to have this information updated and ultimately to set out the final position when the allocation processes are completed.
The above allocations are provisional at this stage and reflect the initial allocation position. The final position for any one school will depend on a number of other factors such as additional posts for schools that are developing rapidly and posts allocated as a result of the appeals processes. The operation of redeployment arrangements also impacts on the final position as a teacher can remain in his or her existing school where a suitable redeployment position does not exist. The final staffing position for all schools will therefore not be known until the autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed for mainstream classroom teachers and any appeals to the Staffing Appeals Board will have been considered.
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