Principal claims schools being pushed to breaking point

Welcoming the first pupils to the newly opened Waringstown'Nursery Unit are, from L to R, Colin Bingham - SELB Architect, Jo-Anne'Dobson MLA, Claire Emerson - Nursery Teacher, Gary Kennedy - Principal'and Carl McCambley - Vice Principal - also included is Allana Gilpin -'Nursery Assistant.
Welcoming the first pupils to the newly opened Waringstown'Nursery Unit are, from L to R, Colin Bingham - SELB Architect, Jo-Anne'Dobson MLA, Claire Emerson - Nursery Teacher, Gary Kennedy - Principal'and Carl McCambley - Vice Principal - also included is Allana Gilpin -'Nursery Assistant.

A local principal, who could lose over £20,000 from his school purse due to a revision of school budgets, has said his school are being stretched to breaking point.

Waringstown Primary School head Gary Kennedy said he was very concerned about proposed changes to school budgets which could see his school lose £22,150.

He said: “We’re already in debt. We’re one of lowest funded schools per pupil in the Southern Board.

“Primary schools like ourselves are being stretched to breaking point due to under funding.”

What the Department of Education has proposed is to take money away from schools with lower rates of free school meal entitlement in order to direct extra funds to those with higher levels.

Mr Kennedy said: “This money should be coming from another pot instead of from schools who are already at breaking point.

“I would support a call for an extention to the consultation period,” he added.

Modelling based on this year’s budgets shows that the cuts would have a devastating effect.

For example, were the cuts to be introduced immediately Waringstown Primary School would lose £22,150, Tannaghmore Primary School would lose £19,536, St Paul’s Junior High School would face cuts of £16,381 and Donacloney Primary School would lose £11,356.

The consultation on the proposed school budget cuts runs until October 18.

Ulster Unionist MLA Sam Gardiner accused the department of fixing one problem but creating another.

He said: “Whilst I support expanding free school meals entitlement I believe the money shouldn’t be taken away from other schools but instead taken out of administration costs and by cutting down on the huge level of waste on bodies such as ESA which John O’Dowd have overseen.

“Back in 2011, my questions to the Minister revealed ESA has cost £10 million before it even started work.

“Two years later, it has still to start work.”