A CARLOW Special Needs school has seen its insurance premium “sky-rocket” from €3,000 to €13,500, according to Senator Jennifer Murnane O’Connor who raised the matter in the Seanad last week
Speaking directly to the Minister for Education, Joe McHugh TD, she said: “The insurance premium for Saplings Special School in Carlow had sky-rocketed from €3,000 to €10,500. Last week, the premium increased again to €13,500.
“The school has incredible staff, a passionate principal and terrific parents, and the parish and wider community are very supportive.
“Each fundraiser, however, dips into the same pot. The annual capitation grant of €20,000 to run the school seems incredible when, just last month, it received an insurance bill of €13,500 and a utility bill for one month alone was more than €4,000.
extreme financial pressure simply soul destroying
“The school has no choice but to constantly fundraise to maintain the services it provides so well. It is one thing for parents to feel frustrated that they cannot give the best to their children, but for a principal and staff to feel they are facing into a grim future under extreme financial pressure is simply soul destroying.
“Saplings special school caters for children from the age of four to 18. This model of school was first established by a small group of parents and professionals in the Kildare area because there was a need for the service; it did not exist elsewhere.
“Saplings now has five schools located around the country providing quality education for pupils with autism and complex needs.”
“We need to keep these schools. We cannot lose the likes of Saplings and other schools across the country because of increasing insurance costs. It is just not acceptable,” the senator said.
In response, Minister McHugh said: “The increased insurance costs of special schools appear to be due to annual increases in insurance costs generally and, increases in claims.
“The Department of Education and Skills is working as a matter of urgency with relevant Departments, including the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and with the State Claims Agency to seek a resolution to the issue of increased insurance costs in special schools.”