Deputy Jackie Cahill: Education Minister has "serious questions" to answer
Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary Jackie Cahill has said that Education Minister Joe McHugh has "serious questions" to answer after funding for the school Summer Works Scheme dropped to its lowest level in three years.
The scheme provides funding to individual school authorities to undertake small-scale building works which, ideally, can be carried out during the summer or at other times that avoid disrupting the operation of the school.
“The funding announced by Minister McHugh, fell short of what was expected. Only €30m will be provided for schools under the 2019 programme. That’s down from €40m in 2018 and €47m in 2017," he said.
The Thurles-based TD said that the scheme was an important funding scheme for schools in Tipperary, allowing them to carry out structural improvements, electrical works and projects for special needs pupils.
“While I welcome the inclusion of the Tipperary schools announced by the Minister for this year’s programme, there are still a number of schools who have been left disappointed. I have one case of a school, which put forward a proposal in relation to traffic safety in 2016 and has still not received funding. Also, some of the school principals have contacted me to say that this year there is a focus on energy saving works on windows and doors, which is important, but I believe health and safety measures should be prioritised," said Deputy Cahill.
He said that Minister McHugh needed to explain why funding for this year dropped by €10m.
"That’s a substantial fall in a year and it means that schools across Tipperary and further afield will miss out on vital money," said the Fianna Fáil TD.
Deputy Cahill pointed out that the amount paid out this year was the lowest it had been since 2016.
"Despite claims that the school’s capital budget has not been cut, it is clear it has been moved down the priority list. Minister McHugh should come forward and explain why this is the case,” said Deputy Cahill.