The main partners in primary education have warned that they cannot continue to rely on “voluntary contributions from already hard-pressed parents” to pay for heat, light and water in schools
A number of primary management bodies have issued a joint statement calling for an “immediate increase” in the basic capitation rate.
Leading educators including An Foras Pátrúnachta, CPSMA, Church of Ireland Board of Education, Educate Together, ETBI, NABMSE and the Muslim Primary Board are asking for a 50pc increase in the rate to €275 per pupil and an increase of 10pc across all other capitation rates.
The group said the rate of the Ancillary Services Grant should also be increased by 10pc and the capping of the grant to an enrolment of 500 pupils should be “abolished for larger schools”.
In a statement issued today, the group warned that the cost-of-living crisis was “not just an issue for individuals but for entire school communities”.
It said increased investment by the state is now “essential so that school communities are not totally dependent on voluntary contributions from already hard-pressed parents to provide basic requirements, such as heat, light, and water, in schools”.
“Even before the recent alarming rises in electricity prices, the price of heating oil has risen by nearly 115pc in a year, and general inflation rates are running at over 9pc,” the statement said.
“Schools cannot survive, let alone thrive, on the current rates.”
The chief executive officer of Educate Together Emer Nowlan said “when schools are underfunded, disadvantaged students lose out most”.
She added: “Chronic underfunding is now at crisis level and the Government must act.”
The general secretary of the Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA) Seamus Mulconry said: “Parents have been subsidising schools for years, but the Bank of Mum and Dad is not solvent enough to support primary schools – the state must act to fulfil its constitutional obligation to provide a free primary education.”
The general secretary of NABMSE Eileen O'Rourke said many schools and classes are located in rooms and buildings that are “old, unsuitable and unsafe-they constitute a safety risk to staff and students”.
“The upkeep of unsuitable dilapidated buildings is a significant cost for schools who have to meet these ongoing costs from their capitation grant,” she said.
“These classrooms/buildings are not insulated to modern standards and are inefficient and costly to run.
“There needs to be an easily accessible enhanced minor works grant for damages, repairs, replacement and purchase of resources within our sector to ensure basic safety for the children in our care. “
Ms O’Rourke said the cost of school insurance has been “soaring in the Special Education Needs sector for many years”.
She added: “Schools cannot continue paying up to €50,000pa for insurance, and need urgent support to meet these fast rising costs.”