The minister for Education and Skills has given the green light to St Joseph’s Secondary School in Tulla to go to construction in 2015/2016 on its new school development, a project the community has been waiting on for more than a decade.
Minister Ruairí Quinn announced this week that St Joseph’s Secondary School is one of 43 new school developments at second level, which will begin over the next five years as part of a €2 billion capital investment programme.
Speaking about the announcement, principal Margaret O’Brien said, “we are delighted to be included in the list but we would hope to beat that deadline if we can get everything in place beforehand. I suppose we were disappointed we weren’t included a year earlier. It will mean a whole brand new school with state of the art facilities and playing facilities and hopefully facilities that we can share with the local community.”
Ms O’Brien explained that together with the board of management the school has been vying for this new school development and was hopeful of being progressed to the construction phase.
“I’d say we are waiting on this in excess of ten years. It is absolutely necessary to provide us with choices and to add on certain programmes and to provide students with the options and the facilities and the circulation space. We have 12 prefabs, some of them are there 30 years and so we are looking forward to replacing them and to having plenty of light and space which will make for a good working space for everybody,” Ms O’Brien added.
The proposed development will be built on a green field site to accommodate the school’s growing population, which currently stands at 432 students and 28 teachers.
Ms O’Brien explained that now that the school’s construction has been approved for 2015/2016, the school will be aiming to go to the planning and design phase in the next year to lay the groundwork for planning permission.
“We would hope start the design or planning process this year anyway. The old school would then revert to the trustees, Educena the financial and property wing of CEIST, when we have vacated,” she said.
She added that following a very
successful fashion show fundraiser held last week, the school aims to hold a number of similar fundraisers in the future.
“We are thrilled with the support we have got from parents and the community,” she concluded.
In announcing the new school build as part of the five year programme, Minister Quinn said the Government was “prioritising investment in school buildings during these tougher economic times”.
“This investment in major school building projects will create an estimated 15,000 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs over the period of the programme (an annual average of 3,000 direct and 600 indirect jobs). A total of €1,500 million (€1.5 billion) will be spent on these 275 projects,” he said.
This is the first time that the Department of Education and Skills has published a five-year plan for school buildings.
The minister said this will facilitate schools’ plans to meet local demand for places and will provide greater transparency in the operation of the school building programme.
“We have to ensure that every child growing up in Ireland can access a physical school place,” the minister concluded.