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05 Jul 2022

Education Minister's Laois school tour welcomed by Minister Sean Fleming

Education Minister's Laois school tour welcomed by Minister Sean Fleming

Minister for Education Norma Foley with Minister of State for Finance Sean Fleming at Scoil Mhuire NS, Abbeyleix

Five Laois schools got a special visit by the Minister for Education this week, with an update on plans for two more new buildings.

Minister Norma Foley officially opened two new school buildings, St Francis School in Portlaoise and Gaelscoil Thromaire near Mountrath, and she visited two more that are set to undergo major works, all funded by her department.  

Welcoming her to Laois on Thursday June 16 was Laois Offaly TD Sean Fleming, Minister of State in the Department of Finance.

"It was great for the Minister to visit these new schools and meet with the students in person. The music and other activities performed by the students was truly outstanding. The students were the heroes of the day," he said.

The first visit of the day was for the official opening of the new St Francis Special School, Portlaoise, which teaches students with mild and moderate intellectual disabilities. The completed new school on Borris Road has 12 classrooms. It replaced the building on the Timahoe Road was deemed outdated and inadequate.

"Additionally, St Francis Special School has recently been approved by the Department of Education for a new extension to the school building which will provide an additional 4 new classrooms. The approved extension came around due to demand for places at the school. This demand is a reflection of the great work and commitment to their students by the Principal, Teachers and entire school community at St. Francis Special School," Minister Fleming said.

The second official visit was for the opening of Gaelscoil Thromaire. This new state of the art facility was built on a parish site beside the community centre and the GAA grounds. Gaelscoil Thromaire allow students the opportunity to become fluent in Irish through education in small classroom groups.

"This school was the first Gaelscoil in Laois to be granted Gaelscoil status a number of years ago. I would like to compliment the Board of Management, Principal, staff, students and everyone in the community for their efforts in campaigning to secure this new state of the art new school building.

"I have worked closely with both schools and the Department of Education stressing the needs for these schools in Laois and I am very pleased to be part of the Official Opening. It goes without saying that the new buildings and facilities will be of huge benefit to the students, staff and wider school communities. I would like to acknowledge the great work by all involved in the applications, planning for these new buildings," he said.

He also brought Minister Foley to the site (below) for the new Dunamase College / Coláiste Dun Masc, a Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB) second level school in Portlaoise founded in recent years with the option of learning through Irish.

"This new building will accommodate up to 1,000 students. Due to the large expanding population in Portlaoise and County Laois it is essential that this new building be available in the Portlaoise. This project is being progressed by the LOETB," Minister Fleming said.

Next on the busy day it was on to Scoil Mhuire NS, Abbeyleix, set to undergo major renovation work this summer.

"A full team of builders and retrofit specialists are moving into this school to carry out works immediately when summer holidays commence, later this month. This school building was approved for a complete overhaul and retrofit. I had met directly with Minister Foley regarding Abbeyleix School and highlighted the poor conditions in the school specifically the roof system, sewerage system, insulation in the school building. The school will reopen for the new school year. This project is being managed by the Department," the Minister of State said.

Lastly it was a visit to Castletown Primary School, where planning permission has recently been granted for a new extension with two classrooms for children with autism.

"Parking, drop off/collection of students at the school has been a problem so planning also included new safety measures including new vehicle set down area, separate pedestrian entrances, a new one way system and set down area. This project is managed by the school and tender documents are currently being prepared," Minister Fleming said.

He gave an update also on the planned new school for Kolbe, the county's only centre for children with profound special needs. Their old school relies largely on prefabs and a new building has been requested for over 20 years.

"In relation to Kolbe School in Portlaoise, final planning permission has been granted. The Minister also confirmed that the preparation of the documents are at an advanced stage.

"Finally I wish the Boards of Management, Principals, staff, students and parents the very best in their new schools and to enjoy the new buildings and improved facilities available to them all," Minister Fleming said.

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