The Department of Education’s continued delay to release the findings of the School Transport Scheme review is sounding alarm bells, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Tim Lombard has consistently highlighted the urgency of creating a new, fit-for-purpose School Transport Scheme. Senator Lombard said: “The continued failure to disclose the review’s outcomes jeopardises the much-needed, updated transport scheme for the 2024 academic year.
“The silence from Minister for Education Norma Foley is deafening. The news of the review’s completion broke over three weeks ago, and we are still left without any official findings from the Minister and her Department.
“Meanwhile, applications for the 2024/2025 school year will open this month and close on 20th April. The clock is ticking, and I am concerned that the swift action we need on this matter will not be possible.
“The students and parents of West Cork and throughout the country have longstanding concerns on whether they will have school transport and we have yet to see the report – never mind implement changes to the scheme before the new school year.
“There is no sense of urgency from the Minister here and if she doesn’t act soon, students and parents will face the same issues they faced last year next September.
“We know the School Bus Scheme’s merits are many; rural connectivity, supporting the labour market and working parents, climate action and fostering life skills for children. But its future implementation remains uncharted and there is immense frustration as we are all left waiting in the dark.
“At this stage the children who were in Junior Infants in January 2021 when the review commenced will be moving to secondary school before anyone sees the report or any changes are made to the scheme. This is not good enough,” Senator Lombard concluded.