By Sarah Mac Donald - 30 November, 2014
The Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA) has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Education & Skills, Jan O’Sullivan, that the recently restored Minor Works grant will continue for the current academic school year.
Improvements to school buildings and grounds are ongoing challenges, and specific funding for the upkeep of school buildings and equipment is essential for the quality of life of schools, the CPSMA said in a statement.
The improvements and repairs include things like replacement of windows, roof repairs, re-surfacing of school yard, plumbing and heating, re-painting and re-decorating, improving insulation standards, replacing furniture and PE equipment, as well as purchasing and maintaining IT equipment.
Welcoming the Minister’s announcement, Fr Tom Deenihan, general secretary of the CPSMA said, “The reinstatement of the Minor Works grant will provide schools with an opportunity to address outstanding maintenance issues – issues which have been financially prohibitive in the absence of this critical funding.”
“Many Catholic primary schools – similar to schools under other patrons – operate in sub-standard conditions which are neither conducive to teaching and learning, or to health and safety.”
“The reality is that many parishes have had to subvent necessary local works from Sunday Mass collections. Our schools and faith communities will especially welcome Minister O’Sullivan’s announcement.”
Fr Deenihan added, “From an operational perspective, today’s news will come as a relief to boards of management of primary schools who must meet the demands of ongoing maintenance of their school buildings.”
However, schools are facing further financial difficulties as the first part of the capitation grant for the school year, 2014-2015, will not be paid until January 2015, the CPSMA warned.
This means that many schools currently have no money and so require their local parish and bishop, as patron, to guarantee loans from financial institutions to keep schools operational.
This is causing stress to the system the education body warned.
“The CPSMA, along with many other parties, has campaigned for the maintenance of this grant in its Pre-budget 2015 Submission, and the CPSMA is delighted with the announcement and the favourable response from Minister O’Sullivan, and her officials, who have engaged fully in a spirit of partnership with management, despite the financial restraints that they operate under,” Fr Deenihan said.
He added, “It is our hope that this grant will now remain for future years.”