Unionists oppose budget cuts

Dire consequences have been predicted should the proposed changes to the common funding formula be implemented.

In last week’s ‘MAIL’ we reported on the Education Minister’s plans to change the formula by using free school meals as the main indicator to determine the funding schools obtain on an annual basis.

It was revealed that Waringstown Primary School would stand to lose over £20,000.

Member of the Education Committee Alderman Stephen Moutray MLA said: “The proposed changes will have a devastating effect on many of our schools particularly the primary sector throughout Upper Bann.

“The figures make stark reading and will undoubtedly see cuts to staffing within schools both teaching and non-teaching, it will see a reduction in resources and could ultimately see the closure of rural primary schools because they are already working to an extremely tight budget.

“At a special Education Committee called by the Chair Mervyn Storey MLA the committee have written to the Minister asking for an extension to the consultation period and we are awaiting the outcome.

“We believe that more time must be given to this process given the dire consequences it will have on our schools.”

Local Ulster Unionist Councillor Colin McCusker has attacked the Education Minister and Upper Bann MLA, John O’Dowd, for his plans to cut the school 
budgets.

The Deputy Mayor said: “Just when you think the attacks on the current education system by John O’Dowd can’t get any worse, we have this bombshell landed on us.

“I have had a look at the projected impact which these changes would have on our local nursery and primary school budgets and I am genuinely horrified at what could possibly happen should these proposals be given the green light. I have identified 14 schools in the Craigavon area that will have a combined cut of close to £150,000 and in a couple of individual cases the cut is as much as £20k. This is totally unacceptable to me. I have two children at primary school and I’m asking why should they have their school budget cut to help another school?

“I appreciate there is a need for extra resources for schools working with children from deprived backgrounds but why should 80% of schools have to literally pay the price for something which the Department should have already been tackling long before now?”