The Department of Education has refused to provide funding for an adult toilet at Drumeela NS.
Staff at a south Leitrim national school are being forced to share toilet facilities with their pupils because the Department of Education will not fund the provision of an adult toilet.
In 2016, on foot of a whole-school evaluation, Drumeela NS applied to the School Building Unit under the Summer Works Scheme for the provision of a separate adult toilet. Three different proposals, one of which included a new build element, were included in the application.
The Department rejected the funding application on the grounds they wouldn't fund a new build of a toilet at the school, ignoring completely the two further proposals which did not include using a new build solution.
Drumeela NS then applied for funding for the toilet under the Emergency Works Scheme but were refused on the grounds the scheme “is not intended to supplement the Summer Works Scheme (SWS) ”, even though the school wasn't granted any funds under the SWS.
Cllr McCartin raised the issue at the March Ballinamore Municipal Meeting and asked the Council to contact the School Building Unit for an explanation as to “how a school can be refused funding on the basis that (such monies) will be used to supplement funds that were never granted in the first place”.
At Monday’s Ballinamore Municipal District Meeting, Cllr McCartin expressed his anger and disgust at the failure of the Department of Education to provide a proper explanation as to why they will not fund the provision of a toilet at this facility.
He said the current situation at Drumeela NS is unacceptable for staff and students.
He said when the inspector came to complete a whole-school inspection he spoke in glowing terms about the school and the facilities but he also encountered problems with the lack of an adult toilet.
“He wanted to use the toilet but when he saw there was only the student toilet he said he could not use the it because of Child Protection Regulations. He had to go to another school to go to the toilet,” said Cllr McCartin.
The comments came following correspondence from the Department of Education which Cllr McCartin said “showed the Department’s complete ignorance of the situation”.
“The response also shows the complete and utter contempt that the Department holds this school and staff in,” he said. “It is absolutely disgusting that the Department won’t answer calls from myself and from the teachers. Then, when the Department finally comes back with a response across the Dáil floor they answer a question we didn’t even ask.”
Cllr Paddy O’Rourke spoke in support adding that inspections often ignored serious issues instead focussing on minor problems.
“The roof could be off the building and the inspectors wouldn't flag it,” he claimed.
Cllr McCartin asked that the Council correspond again with the Department of Education to express “our extreme annoyance” with this situation.
“I am an employer and I can tell you it I didn’t provide my employees with a toilet they wouldn’t come in to work.
“I would still have to pay them but they wouldn’t come in,” he said.