The funding increases for primary schools announced in last Wednesday’s Budget do not go far enough, according to the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation’s (INTO) County Waterford representative.

Reacting to Brian Cowen’s fourth Budget, Sean McMahon said that the increase of €15 per primary school pupil “will do nothing” to help schools pay their bills.

“A 100 pupil school will get an annual increase of only €1500 from Government,” said Mr McMahon.

“At the exact same time local councils or private operators will charge schools huge costs in service and waste charges.”

Mr McMahon referred to a Government pledge to double primary school funding over the next five years.

“In year one, less than 10 per cent of that promise has been delivered,” he continued. “Primary schools will therefore be in a worse financial position because of this budget. Our schools will find themselves another year older and deeper in debt. 

“This is also a mind boggling waste of time and resources. One arm of the state gives money to schools only for another tentacle of the same state to demand it back again.

“Waste and water charges should be paid directly by government. Small schools in particular will have to fundraise more and more.”

The winding up of the Summer Works Scheme will prove “a huge loss” to the county’s primary schools, according to Sean McMahon.

“This essential initiative to address school building requirements has involved very substantial efforts on behalf of Boards of Management and principal teachers in the application process,” he said.

“It has also involved considerable expense for Boards in that proposals had to be designed and costed by appropriately qualified engineering consultants.

“Where now do the legitimate fees of these consultants go? INTO propose that they go directly to the Department of Education.”  

He said that several, desperately needed school refurbishment schemes will be “put on the back burner,” with smaller schools again set to lose out.

“Are we again to listen and be silent to claims of inability to pay for the levels of support necessary,” he questioned.

“This Government was well aware of the country’s financial position when these and other promises were made. Funding does not seem problematic when it impacts on ministerial pockets as we have all seen recently.”