A school principal in Roscommon has said he is “dreading” the next electricity bill as prices spiral upwards.
Across Europe, households and businesses are worrying about how they will pay their utility bills over winter. Schools may be guaranteed state funding but Noel Loftus of St. Attracta's National School in Ballaghaderreen says the situation is still concerning.
“The dreadful thing for us is we’re about to come out of our electricity contract next month and we’re going to revert to standard charges,” he explained to The Hard Shoulder.
“Nationwide electricity charges are going up up to 65%, so we’re dreading the next electricity bill for September and October.”
The school is a Deis school and does not ask parents for a voluntary contribution. State funding is all they receive and Mr Loftus says it is insufficient.
“The Government provides us with a capitation grant that runs to €183 per pupil,” he continued.
“Which is very welcome but the fact is that we’re reaching the point where that’s stretched to the point where that is no longer able to meet what it’s meant to meet - which are the fundamentals of life.”
Other things have also gone up in price and it means the school’s budget is under huge pressure:
“Our heating bill is likely - based on the increased price of oil - is going to be anything up to €35,000 to €40,000 this year,” he said wearily.
“August 2021, per litre we paid 70 cent. In August 2022, for a refill before we went back to school it was 1.45. That’s double the price.”
Still, regardless of the financial situation, Mr Loftus says the heating will be on this winter.
“We are not going to compromise on children’s health and safety,” he says defiantly.
“We will continue with the COVID ventilation advice and that means heating will continue to run in the school.”
Main image: A classroom.