Schools Bonanza

More than 2,000 Portlaoise school children will be on the move over the next three years as part of the Government’s School Building Programme announced this week.

More than 2,000 Portlaoise school children will be on the move over the next three years as part of the Government’s School Building Programme announced this week.

While the amalgamated parish school got the green light there was disappointment for Scoil Bhride, Knockmay who, despite having their planning permission in place, will not begin construction until 2014/2015.

With only eight permanent classes out of a total of 34, the 736 pupils in Scoil Bhride, Knockmay, desperately need a new building.

“While we’re very happy to be on the list, we’re a little unhappy that we’re on the 2014/2015 list. Especially as we were way ahead with planning,” acting principal, Muriel Wall-Coughlan said.

The Parish school principals remained cautious that the building bonanza would go ahead as planned.

“This was promised over a decade ago. It’s the beginning of the end of the road, but until we see diggers working on site we won’t get excited,” said Sacred Heart principal, Enda Hickey.

Msgr John Byrne was more optimistic, but was disappointed that Knockmay was not progressing also. “The planning permission has been granted, but the project is stalled,” he said.

Describing the school as a ‘prefab jungle’, he said that many of the students in the school are being educated in inadequate accommodation.

There was also disappointment for Scoil Phadraig, Portarlington who had two of their classrooms condemned last year.

The boys school has been listed to have an extension built to the school in 2015, but the school principal claims the Department has made an error.

“It is actually wrong, we are in line for a new green field site. An extension is not sufficient for us, we have no place to extend to. We have been in negotiation with the department for all of last year, and they have identified ourselves as a priority. It’s a misprint or a mix-up,” Pat Galvin said.

The three other Portlaoise schools who got the green light this week, hope to be welcoming students in the doors by September 2013, the building project which is being led by the Department of Education is only expected to take nine months. Portlaoise Educate Together, Gaelscoil Phortlaoise and Maryborough NS will share a campus in Summerhill also.

Colaiste Íosagain, Port will also have a new extension built in 2014, while an extension for Knockbeg college is planned for 2015.

Building projects currently underway across the county include the Convent of Mercy, Borris-in-Ossory, Killeshin NS and refurbishment for Scoil Bhríde, Rathdowney.