Cautious welcome from Parish schools

Portlaoise schools principals were cautiously optimistic following Monday’s announcement that the construction of the new amalgamated school would go ahead next year.

Portlaoise schools principals were cautiously optimistic following Monday’s announcement that the construction of the new amalgamated school would go ahead next year.

“We’ve been here before and been disappointed, but we’re absolutely thrilled with the news. It’s a boost for the whole school and the wider community,” Des Sutton, principal of St Paul’s school said.

Mr Sutton said the new builings were needed.

“We have 416 pupils and next September we will be taking in a few more. We’ve almost as many prefabs as classes, with 10 classes and 8 prefabs.”

Sacred Heart principal, Enda Hickey, said he was cautiously optimistic, as the new school had been promised over a decade ago.

“Until we see the diggers on site and working we won’t get excited, We are hamstrung by our physical conditions here. We have over 350 children, the school has grown hugely in the last ten years. The building was never designed with that number of children in mind, and the school is continuing to grow. We’ll just have to wait and see,” he said.

Ann Buggie, Scoil Mhuire was looking forward to the new school and she acknowledged work of Msgr John Byrne PP. She aas confident that the next stage which includes planning approval and then tendering for a builder will go smoothly.

“The wider Portlaoise community have assisted getting the schools this far and I’m sure they realise this is a wonderful time to see something positive for the town in the middle of a recession. I am hopeful that everything will move along as it should.”

Msgr Byrne was believed that construction would go ahead as planned next year..

“We’ve never been this far before. It has been a long road and there was a few disappointments along the way but I have confidence that everything will go to plan. We are on the point of applying for planning permission, and we are not anticipating any delay. We are quietly confident that we will be ready to go next year,” she said.

Msgr Byrne expects construction to take 18 months and hopes to be opening the doors of the school in September 2014.

He expressed his disappointment that Scoil Bhride, Knockmay was not on the list of school to be constructed next year.

“They have their planning permission granted and are ready to look for tenders, but now the project has been stalled. But we’re glad that it’s on that list,” she said.

A combination of the declining quality of the school infrastructure and an increasing demand for school places has lead to an almost crisis situation in Portlaoise.

“In Scoil Mhuire some of the prefabs are 40 years old, we don’t have the facilities that modern schools should and would have. Also every year we are disappointing families by not being able to offer them places in the schools,” she said.