BLEAK FUTURE FOR CHURCH OF IRELAND SCHOOL AS BUS SERVICE WITHDRAWN
One of the oldest primary schools in Ireland is facing a bleak future after its principal was informed that the school bus service is to be withdrawn for the new school year.
The Fermoy Adair School was founded in 1804 and, according to principal Heather Smith, will close if the bus service is removed.
“Our school is being victimised by the Department of Education and Skills. At present, the very existence of the school is being threatened by the removal of our school bus service. The Adair school is serving a minority community in north Cork. It is only one of two schools which serve this geographical area and our minority relies on transport to bring the children to their nearest school,” Ms Smith told The Avondhu.
The principal is charging the Department of Education with ‘discriminating against our school’ which is under Church of Ireland management.
“Parents have a right to send their children to a school which reflects their own ethos and it is not acceptable to expect parents to drive ten or twelve miles with their children each day, when children from other denominations who do not come from such a huge parish, are carried to schools of their own ethos by bus. We have had this service for 39 years and were notified of its removal during the last week of term.
"Despite our school fulfilling all the necessary criteria as laid down by the department to have a school bus, both the department and Bus Eireann have refused to sanction it,” Ms Smith said.
Teachers, pupils and their parents held a demonstation outside their school on this Wednesday to highlight their oppostions to the removal of the school bus service.
“We have 10 eligible pupils and our bus route is similar in length to last year. The sticking point with the department is that they say our children do not come from a ‘distinct locality’, yet when I questioned a senior officer in the department for half and hour yesterday she was incapable of defining ‘distinct locality’ and incapable of directing me to any written definition of the same.
"The words ‘distinct locality’ are the precise words used in the department circular in the past to describe our parish hinterland and we received our transport under this definition for years. On the eve of our return to school, the parents and the bus driver have received no correspondence on this matter from the department,” Ms Smith concluded.
Also at the demonstration on Wednesday, the deputy mayor of Fermoy, Cllr Olive Corcoran told The Avondhu that she was fully behind the Adair school in its fight to retain its bus service.
“The department needs to row back from these measures. We should be supporting education not cutting much needed services to schools,” Cllr Corcoran said.
Tuesday 6th September 11:28am