Minister seeks extra funding for school transport but questions remain

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Minister for Education Norma Foley has told local TD Denis Naughten that she is seeking additional funds in next week’s Budget to address the current school transport situation.

But Deputy Naughten has highlighted the fact that the Minister “is not guaranteeing that children and their siblings who had a bus service last year will get a service this year.”

The Independent TD was informed by Minister Foley that she wants to increase funds in the Budget to issue more tickets to concessionary school children who are not attending either their nearest school or second nearest school.

Deputy Naughten said that he has received an unprecedented level of complaints from parents in relation to school transport and raised this issue with the Education Minister in the Dáil this week.

“Disappointingly, the Minister is not guaranteeing that children and their siblings who had a bus service last year will get a service this year, as we now face into the fifth school week of the new term,” said the Roscommon-Galway TD.

“I have a number of examples of where parents have been using the bus service for years and are now forced to drive up to 100 km per day to transport their children to school, because the Minister did not fully think through her measures to help reduce the costs on families.

“She did acknowledge as this was announced as a measure to assist with the cost of living, that she is hopeful she will secure additional funds for those families who had a service up to this school year.”

Deputy Naughten said that if this happens there are also pupils whose families are commencing in second level for the first time who will be able to secure a bus ticket, if there is sufficient capacity on the bus.

But he said that Minister Foley has made no guarantees.

“It seems to me that the Minister has forgotten that the core objective behind the school transport scheme is to bring children from rural areas to school, but in some instances the only ones who have benefited from the Government announcement are children in towns.”