29th September 2014
By Tom Collins
The Chief Executive of the Cork Education & Training Board Mr. Ted Owens moved this morning to allay concerns in relation to funding for Cork schools, following a meeting last week of the newly elected Board meeting at which ETB finances were discussed. (the meeting was last Thursday, the story was in the papers on Friday and the ETB waited til Monday to issue a statement)
The Department of Education and Skills cut funding to the Cork ETB for the day to day management of schools in the Cork region by over €2 million in 2013, which created a shortfall in the school budget during the year. This was reported to the newly elected Cork ETB Board this week, and full disclosure was provided by Cork ETB CEO Ted Owens.
While the Cork ETB has reduced spending effectively to manage the shortfall in funding, CEO Ted Owens advised that, should it be deemed necessary, a loan would be sought in the future to offset any arising budget deficit.
Mr. Owens further explained ‘under the terms of Section 49 of the Education & Training Boards Act, 2013 provision is made to allow ETBs to engage in borrowing in certain circumstances. This is a reserved function of the Board. I’m not saying we will have to do so but as Chief Executive it is my duty to inform the Board of the correct procedures to be followed should that necessity arise.’
The procedure as set down by legislation is that the ETB must be appraised of the situation in the first instance by the CEO; secondly, the consent of the Minister is sought by the ETB and thirdly, once the permission of the Minister is at hand the Board accepts the proposal to draw down.
‘It is quite a technical issue and would require two meetings of the ETB to get to a draw-down stage. With this in mind, it is prudent to act now rather than waiting for a potential issue to arise,’ added Mr. Owens.
At yesterday’s meeting, board members of Cork ETB heard how the non-pay budget of the ETB had been cut from €6.7m to €4.5m. The Chief Executive informed the meeting that the ETB was coming under intense pressure to maintain the high standards that had prevailed for a long number of years.
‘These are indeed difficult times and the Board and I must do all in our power to ensure that the 11,000 second level students in our Scheme continue to be afforded the best educational opportunities available. Hopefully this situation won’t arise but we do need to be ready for all eventualities.’
Cork ETB currently has a capital programme with a value of up to €50 million. There are a number of notable projects underway including a new Science Laboratory at Scoil Mhuire in Béal Atha’n Ghaorthaidh, five major extensions at Fermoy, Glanmire, Mallow, Clonakilty and Midleton and a significant project in Terence MacSwiney Community College in the area of dust extraction. Construction has begun on a new school in Buttevant, and a 3 Campus School is under planning in Carrigaline, worth an estimated €19 million. This is just a sample of the on-going projects throughout the City & County.
The new Board of Directors for Cork ETB was appointed in early September, and comprises of representatives from the national parents association, education, business and youth organisations as well as the local authorities in Cork.