Job losses and bigger class sizes will be inevitable at Bocombra PS if proposed budget changes are introduced, its principal has said.
Under the Department of Education plans, the school would lose £19,607 per year, making it the fourth highest losing primary school in the southern board area.
The department is proposing taking away money from schools with lower rates of free school meals and redirecting it to those with higher levels. Said Mark Vallelly, “We are already down on our budget because of other changes. The only place we can save money is on staffing and in the end all our children will suffer.
“We are not saying children in deprived areas should not have more resources but there is a school not too far away which has 80 pupils fewer than us but which, under the new calculations, will have £41,000 more. We will have to do the same job on £41,000 less.”
Other schools which would lose funding include Hardy Memorial, £13,425; Edenderry PS, £12,451; Moyallon PS, £11,003; Tandragee PS. £12,492; The Cope PS, £8,574; Millington PS, £7,589; the Birches PS, £8,107; Clare PS, £8,441; Seagoe PS, £12,087 a year.
Chris Scott, principal of Seagoe PS and a member of the NI Primary Principals’ Action Group, said there were many more losers than winners in the southern board area.
“Of the 221 primary schools in the area, 189 will see a decrease in their budget and that will have a real and lasting impact,” he said.
“Most of those who will get more money are in the Belfast area. Some schools will get an extra £100,000 plus per year.”
He added, “If these proposals go ahead, it will create a new form of inequality. Children in the middle group - whose parents both work hard but who don’t receive benefits - will be disadvantaged and why should they be?
“In our school we are already underfunded and it is a struggle to cater for all our pupils’ needs. I have a particular worry for support staff such as classroom assistants, reading support and special needs staff who are a vital part of what we do.”
Mr Vallelly and Mr Scott urged parents to complete the online consultation by October 18.