16-year battle for new building finally pays off

A 16-year campaign at a Kerry secondary school has finally paid off, with confirmation yesterday that the Government has approved a new school building to be constructed within the next four years.

Concern had been voiced for the safety of students attending Presentation Secondary School in Milltown, which was built to cope for a maximum of 200 pupils but currently caters for close on 550.

Because of the cramped conditions, more than 200 pupils have to cross a busy main road every hour to change classes and one student has already been knocked down and injured by a passing vehicle.

South Kerry Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin, who highlighted the issue in the Dáil, described as “great news” confirmation that a new school will be constructed between 2014 and 2016.

He had told the Dáil that the student population in Presentation Milltown had grown dramatically since the school was built in 1981 and it was no longer able to cope with demand.

“In a way, the school has become a victim of its own success, with its excellent reputation drawing more and more students every year,” he said.

The south Kerry TD said the school draws pupils from a vast geographical area, including mid-Kerry, west Kerry and Killarney, and the problem has been compounded by the fact that nine new housing estates have been built in Milltown village in the past decade.

Prefabricated units have been added over the past 20 years but they have become cold, damp and no longer suitable for classroom use, he pointed out.

There is no space for physical education, changing facilities or showers and the school does not have an assembly hall, canteen or library.

The Presentation Order acquired a greenfield site for a new school building in 2006.

Minister of State for Education Ciarán Cannon had told Mr Griffin that given the restricted nature of the school site, the condition of the existing building and a revised long-term projected enrolment of 600 pupils, a new building was recommended.

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