An issue over parents’ representation on the Longford/Westmeath Education and Training Board (ETB) led to an agreement that more clarity was required in relation to the organisation at Monday’s meeting of the ETB.
The matter emerged during a meeting of the board which was held at Ardscoil Phadraig, Granard.
Nora Farrell from Lanesboro told the meeting that her two children would reach 18 years at the end of this month and that according to the new rules governing the education and training boards, she would no longer be eligible to carry on her function as parents’ rep.
“As far as I am concerned this needs to be addressed; parents’ representation should be increased, not reduced,” she added.
Willie Dennigan then pointed out that the issue of parents representation on the ETB board had been a battle that had been fought for ten years, and now it appeared that a “one school, one vote” system was now in place.
“That means that there is a huge peel down in parents representation on the board and I don’t think that the deal that was reached on this was a good one - to be honest, it’s fluff.”
The meeting then heard that parents’ representation was an issue from the beginning. “We thought it was a battle that we had won, but that didn’t happen,” chairman Sean Farrell added.
“It is necessary to have parents on the board, in fact it is vital, but at the moment the enormity of Athlone in all of this means that there will be problem.”
Cllr Paul Connell then said that the lack of information was frustrating.
“We really are as clear on things as mud,” he fumed. “Surely if we are to function as a board we need to get information; we need clarity on all these matters.
“I propose that we write to the Minister, because really there is no point sitting here at a meeting and no information or clarity on anything.”
CEO Christy Duffy then pointed out that Solas was currently engaging in research and a report was due to be published this week.
“Yes, there is uncertainty but there is a lot happening and it is quite rapidly,” he confirmed.
“There is a huge logistical operation in relation to the transfer of the training centres, for example, because if anything goes wrong, the entire reputation of the ETB will be at stake, so we are in a period of transition, but we will get there.”
In conclusion, Cllr Denis Leonard added, “We will now be marrying courses to labour market trends and that is a good thing”. “Well where is the employed in Longford and where is the employment in Westmeath? It is nil that is what it is,” fumed Cllr Connell.