Laois schools are being strongly urged to spend money on fire safety under a grant scheme for minor works on school buildings and facilities.
Laois TD and Minister for Justice & Equality, Charlie Flanagan confirmed some 65 schools in Laois will receive a Minor Works Grant payment over the coming days for small-scale works and improvements.
He said the Department of Education is advising all school authorities to use the grant to prioritise fire safety prevention works.
“While schools have discretion under the Minor Works Grant Scheme in relation to the nature of small-scale works and improvements to be carried out to their school buildings, the Department is advising all school authorities to use the grant in the first instance to prioritise fire safety prevention works.
“The key outcomes from the Department-led programme of fire safety assessments on 55 schools that was initiated last year highlights the need for a strengthened focus on fire safety housekeeping, maintenance and, where necessary, remedial works.
“The Department will be developing guidance for all primary and post-primary schools on the key issues identified from the fire safety assessment programme.
“This will focus on the importance of managing and prioritising fire safety – particularly in the context of funding provided under the Minor Works Grant to all primary schools," said Minister Flanagan.
It is envisaged that this guidance will be provided to schools in the first quarter of 2019 and the Department will be consulting with the school management bodies before finalising the guidance.
All primary schools will receive a flat rate Minor Works Grant of €5,500 plus €18.50 per mainstream pupil and €74 per special needs pupil attending a special school or special class. The grant is worth €6,425 for a 50 pupil school and over €11,000 for a 300 pupil school.
Minister Flanagan said a commitment made under Project Ireland 2040 meant that the Minor Works Grant will be paid on an annual basis to all primary schools.