Dromore woman critical of SELB

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A Dromore woman has accused the Southern Education and Library Board of choosing to ignore existing Dromore Central Primary School pupil and class numbers in its plans for a replacement school.

Mrs Lisa Saunders spoke following a recent Leader article in which Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said the fight would go on to secure extra classrooms for the new school, approved as a 25-classroom school rather than the 28-classroom school campaigners believe necessary.

In written response to Mr Donaldson the Interim Chief Executive of the Southern Education and Library Board, Gavin Boyd, said the Board supported the Department of Education’s decision that 25 classrooms would be sufficient in the new school.

“It is the Board’s view that a challenge to the Department of Education would not be well-founded and would serve only to introduce an unacceptable delay to the construction of the school,” he wrote. “The present planning approval and design for the school allows for straightforward extension to the building should this be required by future enrolment growth.”

Mrs Saunders, however, said: “It would appear that both Mr. Boyd and all board members of the SELB are ignoring the fact that the current site of Dromore Central PS actually has 28 classes in operation together with all the staff required to support 28 classes.

“Furthermore, the Department of Education NI has increased the approved enrolment figure for 2013/14 to 710 as recognition of the continued increase in demand for l places at Dromore Central Primary School.”

Quoting the DENI Resource Accounts 2012/13, Mrs Saunders said Mr. Gavin Boyd was listed as Chief Executive (Designate), Education & Skills Authority and later as an additional Accounting Officer for DENI, his responsibilities as Accounting Officer defined as including responsibility for the propriety and regularity of the public finances for which the Accounting Officer is answerable, for keeping proper records and for safeguarding the Department of Education’s assets.

She found it ironic, she said, that a senior education official with multiple roles and responsibilty for the propriety and regularity of public finances, should apparently support future redundancies of some staff currently working at Dromore Central, it being obvious, she said, that a 25-classroom school would require less staff than the current 28 classes.

The SELB declined to comment further as its position, a spokesperson said, was already on record.