Cork schools 'dreading' next electricity bill as they call for capitation grant increase 

“We changed our electricity supplier, and they haven’t billed us yet. We are dreading it," said one principal
Cork schools 'dreading' next electricity bill as they call for capitation grant increase 

The principal of Coláiste Éamann Rís, Aaron Wolfe said they have factored in an increase of 100% in all their utility bills for the foreseeable future. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CORK school principals have called for an increase in the capitation grant from the Department of Education in the upcoming budget to cover their increased running costs.

The principal of Coláiste Éamann Rís, Aaron Wolfe said they have factored in an increase of 100% in all their utility bills for the foreseeable future. 

“We have factored for an increase of 100% in all our utility bills. That means you are allocating funds for paying your bills which means students will miss out on other activities. Our last fill of oil was only half filled as we couldn’t afford to get any more,” he said.

The secondary school principal said they are "dreading" their next electricity bill, and their caretakers are going around the school making sure all the lights are turned off when not required.

“We changed our electricity supplier, and they haven’t billed us yet. We are dreading it. Our school goes beyond the normal school hours. We start our breakfast club at 8am in the morning and our school stays open until 9pm or 10pm at night. Our facility is used by all members and groups within the community.

“We changed over to LED lights a few years ago thankfully which hopefully will lead to a saving. We have sensors in the corridors, and we have caretakers going around making sure all the lights are turned off in the classrooms. That is difficult to do when the building is open all hours,” he added.

Mr Wolfe said the cost-of-living crisis means parents are presently pinned to their collar. 

“We hear it from the parents. We often rely on parents for voluntary contributions, but parents are pinned to their collar now. People are genuinely worried about how they will heat their homes. Our students are lucky as we give them their breakfast in the morning and their lunch, but they could be going home to cold houses.” 

Currently primary schools receive a capitation grant of €1 per pupil per school day to cover their running costs. Second-level schools receive almost double that amount.

Scoil Padre Pio, Churchfield principal Ken Foley said their bills have gone up "significantly". 

“Our electricity bill came in on Wednesday and it was very big. It has gone up significantly and that is even before the prices really jump up and the winter season really kicks in. We haven’t our heating even switched on yet,” he said.

The primary school principal said they held an internal staff meeting on Wednesday to ensure they can do their bit to save on their bills. 

“We held a staff meeting to see how we can make small changes internally. We ran through all our procedures double checking everything that uses electricity is powered off when it isn’t needed. We will do whatever we can to help bring it down, but in terms of cost saving measures there is only a limited amount schools can do to counteract the big increase in bills.”

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