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We need to learn lesson and reduce energy bills in our schools

30 Aug 2012

The Irish Examiner

Victoria White
JUST when the Mammies and Daddies' pockets have stopped hurting from the new shoes, new clothes and new books, they are faced with paying "voluntary" donations to our schools.
Barnardos says the average "voluntary" contribution requested by schools has gone up by between a half and a third to about €100 per child. It's not surprising, considering the "capitation grant" paid in respect of all students in State schools was slashed by 3½% in February, backdated to January.

Some €178 per primary schoolkid for all the rubbers and pencils and art materials, as well as the heat and light and power running through all those computers and all those whiteboards. How on earth are schools meant to manage? They could. If they cut their energy use.

About a third of that capitation grant typically goes on energy. That's more than €59 for each and every child in primary school and more than €105 for every child in secondary school.

Capitation grants account for about 6% of the €3bn education spend, according to Minister Ruairi Quinn, speaking in the Dáil earlier in the year. So the capitation grants come in at about €180m.

The energy costs of the education sector could be very, very roughly calculated as a third of that amount: €60m.

It's a fair few quid out of our back pockets. And it begs the question why reducing energy use in our schools isn't a top policy objective of the minister of education? But I can find no reference to cutting energy use in any public utterance in the minister's year and a half in the job.

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Read Dublin Friends of the Earth's report on energy wastage and the possibility for savings in public buildings here.

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