Written Answers. - School Services Staff.

Jack Wall

Question:

626 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide funding for a school (details supplied) in County Kildare so that it can employ a permanent caretaker to ensure the school is properly maintained for the safety and health of the children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7656/01]

At primary level my Department provides funding towards the cost of caretaking and secretarial services under two separate schemes. One scheme is the 1978-79 scheme for the employment of caretakers and clerical officers under which my Department meets the full cost of salary and employer's PRSI. This scheme is, however, being phased out, as posts become vacant and no new posts are being created. It has been superseded in the PESP Agreement of 1992 by a more extensive grant scheme.

The PESP scheme provides additionalper capita grants for primary schools towards secretarial and caretaking services. Under this scheme qualifying schools receive grants of £40 per pupil per annum, £20 per pupil in respect of each service.

These grants are paid as additions to the standardper capita grants. This scheme does not provide for the linking of the additional per capita grants to any particular pay scale. The scheme, by its nature, is flexible and gives boards of management discretion as to the manner in which secretarial and caretaking services are provided.

I increased the rates of grant by 33% from £30 per pupil to £40 per pupil with effect from January 2000. Furthermore, with effect from September 2000, I extended the scheme to all primary schools. In addition, I have set a minimum grant of £2,400 per annum which is payable to all schools with 60 pupils or less. The school in question received a grant of £13,560 for the year 2000 based on an enrolment of 339 on 30 September, 1999. A further grant for the year 2001 will issue shortly.
These improvements mean that, for the first time all primary schools now qualify for an annual grant to assist them with the provision of secretarial and caretaking services. The Government's commitment in this regard can also be measured by the fact that the funding allocated for this purpose, which was approximately £5.6 million in 1999, increased in 2000 to approximately £12.2 million and will further increase this year to approximately £16.8 million.
Furthermore, officials from my Department are in discussions with their counterparts in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding the phasing out of community employment schemes in schools. These discussions are aimed at ensuring that, as CE schemes in schools are phased out, funding equivalent to the amount spent on such schemes would be made available to my Department, thereby ensuring an equitable and uniform system of funding for such services.