Millions for new Laois school welcome but 'desperately needed' special school must get help in Portlaoise

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

kolbe school

Kolbe Special School in Portlaoise, on a waiting list for a new building.

The Minister for Education should follow up the funding green light for a new secondary school in Portlaoise by approving the building of new school for children with disabilities in the town, according to local Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley.

The Laois Offaly TD made the call after the Department of Education agreed to fund the Laois Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB) plan to build a new secondary school in Portlaoise.

"The progress on Coláiste Dhún Masc / Dunamase College is very welcome. The latest representations I made on this to Minister for Education Norma Foley, is just two weeks ago and I have also urged her to sign off on the Service Level Agreement with the ETB.

“Permission for LOETB to appoint the design team and further confirmation of funding of €24.5million for construction is a major step forward," said Dep Stanley.

The TD said the school has been hugely successful but has outgrown its current building at Railway Street, to the point where they now have to use the accommodation in the old CBS and Portlaoise Leisure Centre.

He said enrolments have climbed sharply, with 140 pupils enrolled for places in September next year, something which he said has brought this to the Minister's attention. He added that the Department of Education also needs to complete the Service Level Agreement with the ETB and Minister Foley to sign off on this.

The TD also raised the issue of the Kolbe Centre which educations children with disabilities.

"While it is good news for Coláiste Dhún Masc / Dunamase College, the Department now must move ahead with the new building for the Kolbe special school in Portlaoise. This project is desperately needed and long overdue. Staff and parents at Kolbe have been very patient and action is now needed now,” he said.

Kolbe Special School specifically caters for children (age 4-18) within the severe to profound learning disability spectrum and/or autism. There 40 pupils in the school from Portlaoise and surrounding areas. However, the school as been pleading for a new building for years.

It remains the final piece of the educational jigsaw in Portlaoise. It is the last of the schools in the town to be waiting for an upgraded in facilities.