The approval of funds to build a new home for a secondary school in Portlaoise that opened in 2017 is absolutely necessary for the town, according to Laois Offaly Minister of State Sean Fleming.
In a statement, Seán Fleming, who is Minister of State in the Department of Finance, welcomed the approval by the Minister for Education, Norma Foley new secondary school building for Dunamase College / Coláiste Dhún Masc.
The Laois Offaly Education Training Board (LOETB) school has been operating in temporary accommodation in Railway Street in the town centre.
"I am pleased that the Department of Education has given approval for the appointment of a design team by the LOETB. When the design team is appointed they will commence their work and bring the project to the planning permission application stage.
"The overall cost of this project will be in the region of €30 million, including estimated construction costs of €24.5 million plus the site purchase which has already been paid for and other fees associated with the project.
"This new state of the art school will accommodate up to 1,000 students which is absolutely necessary for a town the size of Portlaoise. The access will be from the Timahoe Road and there will also be an additional entrance/exit onto the ring road.
"This is a very large site and it will help reduce the traffic congestion at the existing Holy Family Primary Schools because there will be a facility at the site for Park and Stride. This will allow students to be dropped off at this new location and stride (walk) to the schools.
"I am very pleased that there will be four separate classes for children with special needs on the Autism spectrum.
"Approximately 300 students will be taught through Irish in this new school as currently happens in the existing Dunamase College. This is an excellent option as the school will be able to teach all classes at second level though either Irish or English. There will also be substantial new sporting facilities in the new school site.
"I especially want to thank the Board and the Chief Executive of Laois Offaly Education and Training Board for their dedication and commitment to achieving a new school in the town. I am determined to ensure that every support is given at each step of this project by the Department of Education and the Government at national level.
"This is great news for education in Portlaoise," concluded his statement.
Since 2007 several new schools have moved to new homes in Portlaoise from outdated buildings. Work is ongoing at St Francis NS which has been delayed by Covid-19. Only the Kolbe School for children with disabilities is now relying on prefabs.