Dáil Éireann - Volume 539 - 26 June, 2001
Written Answers. - School Staffing.
Mr. Quinn Mr. Quinn
395. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the procedures which are in place to ensure that money allocated to schools for the employment of caretakers is spent for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18550/01]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
 Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): In general schools are given significant discretion as to how they utilise moneys allocated by my Department. This approach is taken in order to ensure that local circumstances and needs can be taken into account in reaching decisions on expenditure.
At second level, the way in which my Department provides caretaking resources to second-level schools reflects the different management and ownership arrangements for vocational schools and community colleges, community and comprehensive schools, and voluntary secondary schools.
Voluntary secondary schools with enrolments of 200 or more in the free education scheme receive grants towards the cost of caretaking services under the PESP scheme. These grants are paid in addition to the standard per capita grant. 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. In the case of vocational schools and colleges, non-teaching staff allocations, including caretakers, are allocated to vocational education committees on a scheme wide basis. The way in which staffing is allocated to schools is a matter for each committee in line with their priorities and perceptions of need. All schools in the community and comprehensive sector have the services of one or more caretakers, the full salary costs of which are met by my Department.
In addition to the funding arrangements outlined above, schools at second level now also receive additional annual funding of £20 per pupil, with a minimum payment of £4,000 per school under the school services support fund. This fund will channel an additional £7 million to second level schools each year. While provision for secretarial and caretaking support is a particular focus of this fund schools themselves are given discretion as to how precisely the funding is applied.
The position at primary level is that my Department provides funding towards the cost of caretaking services in primary schools under two separate schemes. One scheme is the 1979 scheme for the employment of caretakers under which my Department meets the full cost of salary. The 1979 scheme is being phased out as posts become vacant and no new posts are created. It has been superseded in the PESP agreement of 1992 by a more extensive grant scheme. The PESP scheme provides additional per capita grants for primary schools towards caretaking and secretarial services. These grants are paid as additions to the standard per 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. Secretaries and caretakers employed by schools are employees of the individual schools and my Department does not have any role in determin ing the pay and conditions under which they are employed.
Dáil Éireann 539 Written Answers. School Staffing.