MORE than 23,500 places in 20 new schools and 32 extensions have been promised as part of the Government’s €579 million school building programme.
Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe yesterday announced details of 52 school building projects which will go to tender and construction. Of these, 25 school building projects which have planning permission will move to tender and construction “shortly”.
A further 27 projects, which have not yet secured full planning permission, have been authorised to prepare tender documentation and are expected to go to tender and construction this year and early next year.
The department also announced that 22 school building projects, approved to enter architectural planning in recent years, will appoint design teams this year.
A further 29 projects will start the design process and appoint design teams this year. Speaking at the announcement of the programme, Mr O’Keeffe said the investment in school building would increase the number of places available in schools around the country.
“The 52 projects I am moving to tender and construction will create more than 23,500 school places in 20 new schools and 32 extended and refurbished schools. At primary level, over 14,500 pupils will get permanent school places.
“At post-primary level, 1,900 pupils will get permanent school accommodation in three new school buildings while a further 7,400 pupils will benefit from major extensions and refurbishment projects in their schools.”
Mr O’Keeffe said he planned to announce further school projects under the summer works scheme in the coming weeks and these would include measures to promote water conservation and cut water bills. He also said the building programme would create more than 5,300 jobs in the construction industry at a time of severe retraction in the sector.
Seven new primary schools are also set to open in September in areas which have been singled out as rapidly developing regions: Ballbriggan, Co Dublin (County Dublin VEC); Swords, Co Dublin (Educate Together); Doughiska, Co Galway (Catholic Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora); Naas, Co Kildare (County Kildare VEC); Portlaoise, Co Laois (Educate Together); Drogheda, Co Louth (Catholic Archdiocese of Armagh); and Navan, Co Meath (Co Meath VEC).
Mr O’Keeffe said the move to open these schools followed a detailed analysis of the demographic growth of the areas and consultation with patron bodies.
“We are using technology to map areas where schools will be needed and we are responding to these demographic trends by investing in school buildings and establishing new schools.
“I have extended the community national school pilot to Balbriggan, Naas and Navan this year because I want to evaluate the model in different locations before making informed decisions about expanding it further.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved