Carrick-on-Suir Town Council has written to Education Minister Ruairi Quinn calling on him to reverse the plan to cut eight teachers from the town’s Presentation Primary School next September.
The Council’s public representatives unanimously decided at their last monthly meeting that the Council should appeal directly to the Minister not to go ahead with reducing the school’s teaching staff by a third.
The Department of Education has informed the Presentation Primary School, which has 355 pupils and 26 teachers, that it will lose four teaching posts awarded to the school under the Give Children an Even Break scheme in 2001 along with two learning support teachers, a language support teacher for non-nationals and one teacher due to lower student number.
Councillors condemned the Minister’s plans at the monthly meeting. Independent Cllr. Richie O’Neill said it was outrageous to cut eight teaching posts in one go. He pointed out that Carrick-on-Suir was the main town for asylum seekers but there would be no teacher to work with their children if these cuts went through.
Fianna Fail Cllr Kieran Bourke pointed out that the Department of Education estimated there would be 36,000 new primary school pupil registrations in Irish national schools before 2014 so it beggared belief that the Department could cut eight teachers from one school.
“Where does the Minister think the teachers are going to come out of to teach these new pupils. He is going to get rid of them today and re-employ them in two year time. It doesn’t make sense,” he complained.
His party colleague Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan said the teaching post cuts were another blow to the town and appealed to the Council’s Fine Gael and Labour representatives Cllr Margaret Croke and Cllr Sarah Dunne to do their utmost to pressurise their parties to reversing the teaching post cuts at the school.
She told them that if it was a Fianna Fail minister, who made these decision, she would be “kicking down their door.”
Sinn Fein Cllr Liam Walsh said education was one of the ways this country was going to get out of recession so it beggared belief that Minister for Education was pursuing these cuts.
Earlier at the meeting, the Council decided to write again to the Education Minister on the issue of the plan to cut one teaching post from Newtown Upper National School near Carrick-on-Suir due to the Government’s decision to increase the number of enrolled pupils required to qualify for its third teacher and back date the change to last September.
In February, the Council wrote to the Minister submitting a motion calling on him not to renege on its contract with Newtown Upper NS to sanction three teachers for the number of pupils it had enrolled last September. The response from the Minister’s office that was read to the latest Council meeting was greeted with anger from Cllr Cooney-Sheehan, who complained that it didn’t answer the request the Town Council had made.
“Talk about a whole heap of waffle”, it’s a “whole heap of absolute balderdash. I could have downloaded that from the Internet,” declared Cllr Cooney-Sheehan after Town Clerk Michael O’Brien read the letter to councillors.
She demanded that the Council write back outlining its unhappiness with the Department’s reply and request it respond directly to the Town Council’s motion. The Town Clerk agreed to do so.