One hundred and fifty nine primary schools throughout County Tipperary are breathing a sigh of relief this week after an announcement that the minor works grants are to be re-introduced, thereby providing much needed cash for esential repairs to property and equipment.
The announcement from the Government was greeted with glee in staffrooms and amongst parents groups, many of whom were undertaking special fundraising projects to keep school buildings intact - especially older ones which are badly in need of investment.
It is estimated that parents are paying up to 30% of the costs of running schooles through fundraising initiatives, voluntary contributions and many other means - this has often been referred to as silent taxation. And, while that will likely continue for some time, the latest move by the department will ease some of the burden at least on school Board of Managements throughout Tipperary.
Deputy Michael Lowry welcomed the announcement that 159 mainstream primary schools in Tipperary are to receive funding under the Minor Works Grant for the 2016/2017 school year.
This grant is worth €5,500 per school plus €18.50 per mainstream pupil and €74 per special needs pupil for the schools in Tipperary. This means €6,425 for a 50 pupil school and over €11,000 for a 300 pupil school. The schools will receive the funds over the coming weeks.
The works that can be undertaken under the Minor Works Grant include improvements to school buildings and grounds, improvement or replacement of mechanical and electrical services, the purchase of standard furniture and physical education equipment, the purchase of floor coverings and window blinds and the purchase of IT related equipment.
The Deputy Concluded: “The Minor Works Grant provides essential funding to allow schools operate on a day to day basis and assist in essential remedial works. I welcome the reintroduction of this grant allocation which School have been denied in recent years.”
Deputy Jackie Cahill also welcomed confirmation that 159 primary schools across the country will receive minor works grants during the current academic year.
“This is fantastic news for schools, but especially pupils, in Tipperary schools. These grants will enable schools to undertake improvements to school buildings and grounds, improve or replace mechanical and electrical services, buy furniture and physical education equipment, or IT equipment.”
“The premium being awarded to schools teaching children with special learning needs is especially welcome. There are many additional costs associated with making schools inclusive, and I know many schools across the county will welcome this funding measure.”
“Many schools rely on these grants to maintain their school in a decent condition, and have been waiting for this announcement for some time.”
“I am particularly delighted that schools will be able to use this funding to purchase physical education equipment. This is crucially important, and I know schools have been anxious to obtain additional equipment to help ensure the proper rollout of the new physical education syllabus at senior level.”
“Our next challenge is to ensure that this grants scheme is expanded and increased next year. Schools have been left without funding for many years, and have relied on parents, and the local school community, to raise funds to maintain services. This cannot be allowed to continue, and I will lobby the Department of Education to commit to additional funding in the next school year,” concluded Deputy Cahill.