The Department of Education (DE) has confirmed that it is working with Foyle College in Derry to ‘secure repayment of funds’ linked to its relocation to Limavady Road.
Last week, the Derry News revealed that the local school has launched a fundraising appeal to gather the £821,000 it owes the DE.
Foyle College is a co-educational Voluntary Grammar School which has been providing a high-quality education for young people in the city and surrounding area for over 400 years.
It is understood that the debt has to be repaid by the end of June or the school risks losing its Voluntary Grammar status and by extension its independence.
The DE was asked to confirm the date by which the debt has to be paid, what formula is used to decide how much the DE got from the sale of the old Foyle College lands and the potential ramifications if the money cannot be gathered.
In response, a DE spokesperson said: “As per normal procedures with schools, the Department is continuing to work with Foyle College to secure repayment of funds related to their move to the new site at Limavady Road.”
Following the publication of last week's article in the Derry News, a former pupil of Foyle College who is now living in Canada got in touch with the paper to encourage people ‘from around the world’ to help the local school.
In 2018, Foyle College moved around 850 pupils from its home on Duncreggan Road and Northland Road to a new ‘state of the art’ campus on Limavady Road.
The DE purchased the site and building.
However, to allow pupils to attain the ‘first class’ academic, athletic and artistic standards it has set, the local College invested in additional facilities including sports pitches and extra classrooms.
These enhanced facilities came at a cost of £2.4m.
Around £1m of that cost was covered by a previous fundraiser while the school awaited the final figures for the sale of its former campuses.
It has since emerged that DE sold the original lands for £3.4m.
According to Foyle College, the department retained £2.8m of that for grants it previously awarded to the old school sites.
That means £0.6m was available to the school, leaving a deficit of £821,000.
In correspondence with alumni and friends of the school, the College says DE’s figures are based on ‘clawing back’ money that has been spent on a school prior to its new build.
It reads: “Because the school has received grants from DE over the past 50 years to fund capital items at Springtown and Duncreggan, legislation provides that DE claw back a proportion of these grants against any sale proceeds from land owned by the school.”
Foyle College is asking friends of the school to help raise £821,000 by June 30.
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