I thank the Ceann Comhairle's office for selecting this issue and I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Breen, for attending to deal with it. While the matter does not fall under his remit, I appreciate the fact that the is here.
This issue relates to Tisrara national school at Four Roads, County Roscommon. Due to new staffing guidelines, the school is in danger of losing a third teacher in September. Tisrara is a DEIS school and one fifth of its pupils are members of the Traveller community. While the schools has a current enrolment of 49, a threshold of 51 will apply for the retention of the existing third mainstream classroom teacher. Losing a teacher would be detrimental to the fabric of this rural school. A threshold of 17 pupils applies for the retention of the existing second mainstream classroom teacher in a two-teacher school. This means Tisrara, which has a projected enrolment of just under 50 pupils for September 2019, will be allocated the same number of mainstream teachers as a school with 17 pupils. It simply does not make sense.
Tisrara national school's parents' association has fought hard in respect of this matter and a petition from parents, school and community members in support of the retention of the third teaching post has been sent to the Department of Education and Skills. I urge the Government to re-examine the position. The extenuating circumstances of Tisrara suggest it should be permitted to hold onto its third teacher or given an extension or grace period in which to increase its enrolment numbers. The loss of a third teacher would be devastating for the community, particularly the children attending what truly is a fantastic school. It would be shocking. The school has 49 students, 13 of whom are in sixth class and will leaving in June. Ten potential new students are due to enrol for the September 2019-2020 calendar year. The community would be very disappointed to lose a teacher based on such a shortfall.
I am sure the Minister of State, Deputy Breen, has come across situations like this before. When Deputy Bruton was Minister for Education and Skills, he granted an extension period to a certain school in Roscommon following my request. I am very hopeful that in the circumstances I have outlined, we will be able to do the same in this case. It is much needed.