cash strapped families could have to pay for bus travel when Portlaoise’s new primary schools are built, because they will be too far outside town for children to get there by foot.
Councillors welcomed last week’s news that Maryborough NS, Portlaoise Educate Together and Gaelscoil Phortlaoise are to be in their new buildings at Summerhill by September 2013. However Cllr Willie Aird voiced his concerns about the potential costs to parents of bussing their children to school.
“An awful lot of people are still walking their children to school, from Dr Murphy Place, St Brigid’s, Esker Gate. A lot are on low incomes, with the high level of unemployment. Will they be able to walk to Summerhill? No, Unless a scheme is brought in to subsidise the cost of sending children on a bus, they could find themselves in difficulty,” he said.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald had asked for an update from the Dept of Education, before knowing about the government announcement.
“This is good news, but when is it going to happen? The sooner they are built the better, the population of Portlaoise is exploding,” said Catherine Fitzgerald.
Ballyroan woman Cllr Mary Sweeney was disappointed that rural schools were not included in the list.
“I appreciate that the highly populated areas are most important, but we were hoping in Ballyroan to be on this list. Obviously it has moved forward to the design stage, but I would ask for your support to continue to lobby for a new school,” she said.
“We need to have plans put in place for the vacant schools in the town. There are a good lot of buildings, we need to see what’s going to happen,” said Cllr Kathleen O’Brien.