School targets funding anomaly

by Gazette Reporter

A LOCAL school is asking parents to support a petition urging the Department of Education to give them access to the book rental scheme.
Powerstown Educate Together National School, Tyrrelstown, opened in 2011 and set up a small book rental scheme. The developing school has since spent €10,000 on literacy lift off and guided reading books.
A further €15,100 is required to buy enough resources for all classes, while another €2,000 is needed to purchase a reading scheme for independent readers.
The school currently has 95 pupils but will eventually develop to house 16 classrooms. They said they are doing all they can to ease the financial burden on parents but need financial support from the Department for the rental scheme to succeed.
“The Department told us we cannot access the grant because we have already fundraised ourselves to start the scheme,” said principal Helena Regan. “It is frustrating because as a new school our funding is limited. We get a grant based on the number of pupils we had in the school the year before so we are always behind in our grants.
“The children read two to three new books each week so we have to have a rental scheme for it. We have four classes using these but we only have enough for one class so we are sharing and timetabling to make sure everyone can access the resources… We want to make sure parents are aware of what we are not getting access to and to petition if they wish to support the school, telling the Minister why we think we should have access to the scheme.”
Cllr David McGuinness (FF) said instead of the Government supporting the school’s development and growth, it’s “punishing them for being innovative and starting a book rental scheme.
“Launching a scheme that supports schools which do not have a book rental scheme in place is a scam as any school which needs a book rental will do everything in its power to get one up and running immediately.”
A spokesperson for the Education Department said it is the Minister’s aim “to ensure that every primary school in the country has a book rental scheme.
“Therefore, he is targeting schools with no schemes initially so as to include all primary schools would mean that funding would be so diluted that it would have little impact.”
The Department said it will continue to pay a book grant to all primary schools, which can be utilised for the purposes of “updating or expanding” a school’s existing book rental scheme.

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