That showed them, huh?

Faced with balancing a budget that is predicted to be £28million short over the next 3 years, local political representatives today walked out of a Southern Education and Library Board meeting refusing to discuss any proposals and threatening to resign. How exactly that will change the situation faced by the SELBoard is anyone’s guess.. perhaps they think that £1Billion cheque has already been cashed?

  • Donnie

    I have no sympathy for these people. The only sympathy I have is with the children, their parents and those innocent heads set to roll following the wilful mismanagment of funds.

    My sister-in-law is a teacher and she went on a 2-day course in Newry with the SELB. Most of the teachers were from Markethill, Newry and Armagh yet ALL of them were put up in the Canal Court Hotel overnight with all 3/4 course meals provided for 2 days!!!

    It beggars belief that this money should be wasted when the teachers in attendance all lived with 30 mins drive from the hotel…..

  • willowfield

    Is the £28m shortfall caused by these residential courses?

  • slackjaw

    I believe the SELB contest in court all litigation claims made against them because the cost of insurance is too high.

    Frankly I blame the parents.

  • Donnie

    Willow you really are a pleb. Look after the pennies….

  • IJP

    Thanks and well said Donnie – proof that there’s some sanity about!

    Those who walked out should maybe stay out, since they were on the Board that oversaw the shortfall!

    I note that Ulster Unionists think the money should be found ‘from the treasury’, i.e. that the shortfall should be made up of yet more money coming from England, i.e. that some project in England should go without it! Still, that’s what membership of the UK is all about, isn’t it…?

  • slackjaw

    IJP

    ‘Those who walked out should maybe stay out, since they were on the Board that oversaw the shortfall!’

    In what way did they ‘oversee’ the shortfall?

  • willowfield

    Donnie/IJP

    You are assuming that the shortfall is caused by inefficiency, inappropriate or careless spending, etc., rather than on not being given enough money to cope with educational need.

    Have you anything to back this up?

  • fair_deal

    I think this issue is one of ‘unfunded mandates’ (to use an Americanism).

    Central government has given a number of commitments on issues like school tranpsort and special needs but have not resourced them. This may not be the source of all the woes but is a key contributor.

    Best way to save money – abolish the boards/abolish the controlled,maintained,irish-medium (schools can exercise such an option) and integrated sector/amalgamate schools and the state provide one simple secular education system.

  • willowfield

    Agree with fair deal.

    Can we afford to have such a complicated and bureaucratic education system? Judging by the problems being encountered by the boards, the answer has to be “no”.

  • peteb

    All very good points (on the bureaucratic nature of the Education system).. but there’s another issue here and that is the grandstanding by political representatives faced with, perhaps, their first difficult decision as members of the SELBoard.

    Up to this point they have, probably, had nothing more taxing to do than nod in agreement when presented with the next year’s spending plan (when they attended that is). Now they have difficult decisions to make, decisions that they know will be unpopular with their constituents, and their response is.. ‘la-la-la-la.. I can’t hear you!’

    Indicative of the failure of all our political parties?

  • IJP

    To be fair, WF, Donnie’s already provided one very good example.

    I never heard them querying the budget at the start!

    The fact is the education system is over-bureaucratic. The evidence is all around us.

    That said, I will say two things:
    1. I’ve little doubt the timing of the ‘shortfall’ is deliberate, just prior to the abolition of all these boards and their replacement by unitary local authorities; and
    2. It is unfair to expect an Education Board to pay, for example, to build a footpath for children – that is for the DSD, or is it DRD, or is it DoE…

  • IJP

    Indicative of the failure of all our political parties?

    Yes.

    The concept of having to spend within constraints has been alien to us for 30 years.

  • slackjaw

    peteb

    ‘Indicative of the failure of all our political parties?’

    Hmmm. Maybe.

    Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but I don’t think that you can discard the possibility that this is an indication that our political parties are actually all working together within the rules of the present game, i.e. in order to highlight the lack of funding for the SELB, and to muster according political pressure, they all threaten resignation.

    If this is the case, I would not be surprised if it were being done in connivance/cooperation with other members of the board executive.

    IJP

    ‘I never heard them querying the budget at the start!’

    Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but in the case of the SELB, I believe this is at the start.

  • willowfield

    IJP

    To be fair, WF, Donnie’s already provided one very good example.

    And I queried whether the shortfall is made up entirely or mostly of other similar examples rather than an allocation of money that was insufficient to cover educational needs.

    Your and Donnie’s assumption is the former, yet you have offered no evidence to back it up, other than a single anecdotal example.

    The fact is the education system is over-bureaucratic. The evidence is all around us.

    I’ve acknowledged that. But does bureaucracy account for the entire shortfall, or is it partly caused by there not being enough money to pay for education?

    I’ve little doubt the timing of the ‘shortfall’ is deliberate, just prior to the abolition of all these boards and their replacement by unitary local authorities; and

    Agree.

    On another point – I’ve said this before – it is ridiculous that these boards are made up of placemen: they should be under the direct control of politicians.

  • peteb

    slackjaw

    The funding issue has already been highlighted at two other Education and Library Boards and this would have been no different. The walkout is, IMO, a convenient avoidance of the decisions which will have to be taken. the politicians involved have been perfectly happy to oversee the spending (and I’d suggest their membership of the Boards has been prominent in their electioneering literature) but they can’t be seen to be making the cuts.. that spells problems ahead for all local government, even if that cheque arrives.

  • IJP

    WF

    We’re broadly in agreement (I could give a similar anecdotal example replacing Canal Court with Newcastle), but don’t miss my own prime point, that the shortfall must be made up from within the NI budget.

    Demanding that Barry Gardiner take more money from England is utterly irresponsible. If NI education needs another £23m, NI something-else will have to do without.

    Time for real politics!