ALMOST HALF (46 per cent) of Irish primary schools are in deficit – and just over one fifth (22 per cent) of schools are breaking even, according to a new survey.
In addition, the majority of schools received a minor works grant, with those receiving it saying that without it they would see their school and grounds go into disrepair. The research was carried out on behalf of the Catholic Primary School Management Association by Amárach Research.
General Secretary of the CPSMA, Eileen Flynn said:
Schools at primary level were always the poor relation in terms of funding even in times of plenty and now cannot even make ends meet. Any further cuts to their budgets will be devastating. In addition any increase to the pupil teacher ratio affects all pupils and those most in need disproportionately.
The survey also found that there were reductions in income. Over half of the schools in disadvantaged areas reported they find themselves in particular difficulty with deteriorating buildings and unable to fund maintenance and repair works.
Minor Works Grant
The majority of schools (93 per cent) received a minor works grant last year to carry out essential repairs, and for the schools who received the grant, 43 per cent said it ranged between €5,001 and €8,000. Seven in 10 of the schools reported the funds were absolutely essential.
In total, 86 per cent of schools supported local contractors for this work and two-thirds of projects were completed within four weeks.
“Minor works grants are essential, with 72 per cent of schools indicating that the work completed was essential to the maintenance of buildings and grounds. Fifty five per cent of school buildings are in excess of 60 years old and hence in greater need of repair,” said Flynn.
The removal of the minor works grant would clearly have negatives effects on schools, said the CPMSCA. Half of schools said they would be unable to fund maintenance/repair work if the minor works grant was discontinued. Forty per cent said that this would lead to the deterioration of buildings, while 1 in four feel it would lead to a deterioriation of school grounds. In addition, 1 in 8 would have to seek voluntary contributions from parents in the future.
Although schools currently receive funding from the Department of Education, over 8-in-10 (86 per cent) also run ad-hoc fund raising pieces to raise additional funds. Over half of the schools looking for funds from other sources have seen a decrease in the amounts raised versus previous years, according to the survey.