Fifteen more Catholic primaries to be closed or amalgamated
THE closure or amalgamation of a further 15 Catholic primary schools in the Dublin area is under negotiation as part of a rationalisation process.
The discussions involving the schools could result in the establishment of nine new schools, Anne McDonagh, director of education for the Archdiocese of Dublin told an Oireachtas committee.
The archdiocese has been involved in a systematic reorganisation of the 466 primary schools under its umbrella, which has seen five amalgamations involving 10 schools in the past two years.
Falling enrolments in some areas and related financial problems it causes for schools; demand for co-education; and moves for more choice of patron are the key drivers of the change, Ms McDonagh said.
She told the Oireachtas education committee that population decline in a number of areas was clearly evident in falling enrolments and some schools that were traditionally large now had empty classrooms.
She said these buildings still had to be maintained and schools losing numbers were experiencing financial difficulty.
Ms McDonagh said that in two years time a significant percentage of schools may not be able to exist financially, based on current department funding. She said the amalgamation of schools in areas of declining pupils numbers would ensure their viability.
The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, has committed to handing over empty schools to other patron bodies in areas where there is a recognised demand for choice.