Alliance Strangford candidate Kellie Armstrong has said the Education Minister has neglected schools in the area for too long.
Ms Armstrong was speaking after the principals of 15 schools in the Newtownards and Comber area wrote to parents highlighting the financial difficulties they face.
Kellie Armstrong said: “I wholeheartedly support this letter from the 15 Principals setting out the dire financial situation they have been placed in by the Education Minister. Principals have estimated that over the last five years, their budget per child has risen by a paltry 0.9% while costs have risen by 14.5%.
“Schools are entering the new financial year without a budget, and so face uncertainty over the numbers of staff they can afford to employ. When faced with financial cuts, Principals have only two choices, cut staff numbers resulting in larger and merged classrooms or reduce the range of services available to children.
“This latest financial disaster comes soon after the Education Minister lost the opportunity to spend £47 million for capital projects in the shared and integrated sector this year. Our divided society wastes huge amounts of public money every year through segregation in social housing and education. There is a clear demand from parents for integrated education and supporting this sector helps break down barriers and improves community relations.
“It is time the Education Minister and the Education Authority recognised the importance of guaranteeing adequate funding for our schools to give our children the best possible start to their lives.”