After TDs called for an end to voluntary contributions in schools, Catholic schools’ bodies hit back, saying “nobody wants to fundraise for necessities, but schools have to”.
Ireland spends less than either the European Union or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average on education, Seamus Mulconry told The Irish Catholic.
“The only reason we have the contributions is that around 50% of running costs are supplied by the Government and the rest has to be made up somewhere,” Mr Mulconry, secretary general of the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA), continued.
“Nobody wants to fundraise for necessities, but schools have to.”
His comments came after a Dáil debate on the Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill 2019 centred on the schools seeking voluntary contributions from parents to fund running costs.
Mr Mulconry said the practice is “not sustainable”, but to abolish them, schools would need increased funding “so that the State at least supplies schools with enough to cover running costs”.
“People don’t understand how little is spent on primary schools,” Mr Mulconry said.
Catholic secondary schools’ bodies agree, with 30% of funding at second level coming through voluntary contributions.
“Where there is that gap, we have to make it up,” said Mr John Curtis, of the Joint Managerial Body/Association of Management of Catholic Secondary Schools (JMBAMCSS).
Mr Curtis added they have “no issue” engaging on the subject, but to phase out the contribution would need more State funding.
Speaking about the Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill 2019 itself, Mr Mulconry also added that they have “concerns” over the bill’s wording.
“The bill implies a division between students/parents and schools,” Mr Mulconry said. “But schools aren’t buildings or a service provider, they are a community and everybody within it has rights and responsibilities. The bill would be better called ‘the school community charter’ to reflect this.”