Big Laois Offaly school caught up in Western Building Systems debacle forced to delay opening

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

western building systems

Builders were on site at Portarlington Presentation Primary School this week.

A Laois school which serves more than 700 children from Laois and Offaly has had to delay opening to allow the completion of repairs to part of the building constructed by Western Building Systems.

Cathal Ruane, Portarlington Presentation Primary Principal, has advised parents that the school will not now open as scheduled.

"Unfortunately, today the Department of Education has informed the school Board of Management the construction company will not be finished the remedial work on the school building until Friday, August 30.

"The children will not be able to return to school until Monday September 2, the Board completely understand that this is hugely inconvenient for you all but it is out of our control. Staff will be back on Tuesday next as per calendar for in-service and during the week preparing etc. and getting the classrooms and ASD unit ready over the weekend of the 31st.

"All classes will be returning on Monday the 2nd of September," said the note.

The Department of Education claimed last week that the work had already been completed in the school.

Three other Laois schools are also undergoing extensive repairs while a third will undergo remediation in 2020 or 2021. 

Extensive repairs have had to be carried out to the schools which are among more than 40 buildings caught up in the Western Building systems controversy.

As lead design and build contractor, Western Building Systems has said it constructed a new eight-classroom school building extension, with a special needs unit and hall for Department of Education in Portarlington.

They say they were responsible for all design elements, site development works, mechanical and electrical installations in Portarlington. They say the building consisted of structural steel precast concrete floors and block walls. They say the building was a complete turnkey solution which was completed on time in 2012 and within budget.  

It was an extension to a new school completed in 2008.

The Portarlington school has issued the following guidance to parents with children due to return or start in the coming days.

Routine for 1st Day – 2nd September
2nd to 6th Class
8.45am as normal
Line up as normal in senior yard
1st Class
9.15am
Meet in Senior Hall
Senior Infants
8.45am to 12.00
Enter into junior PE hall
Junior infants
10.00am to 12.00
Parents can drop child to their classroom

Routine for 3rd – 6th September
2nd to 6th Class
8.45am as normal
Line up as normal in senior yard
1st Class
8.45am as normal
Go to their class line.
Senior Infants
8.45am to 12.00
Enter into junior PE hall
Junior infants
8.45am to 12.00
Parents can drop child to their classroom.