New Portlaoise school site secured as pressure mounts with rising number of students

Michelle Hogan

Reporter:

Michelle Hogan

New Portlaoise school site secured as pressure mounts with rising number of students

Dunamase College staff, students and parents

A site has been secured to build a new school in Portlaoise for up to 1,000 students at the permanent home of Dunamase College.

Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board (LOETB) Heads of Agreement have been reached for the acquisition of land off the Timahoe Road, Portlaoise for the new secondary school.

Chief Executive of LOETB, Joe Cunningham, said that the site acquisition provides certainty for the school and those wishing to enrol their children at the school.

The school is temporarily at Railway Street in the town centre and will take in 115 new students this September bringing the total number of students to 200.

The school is at capacity and is under pressure to get the ball rolling on a new, larger facility to cater for the growing demands for school spaces in Portlaoise.

The school will be built on land behind the Equestrian Centre on the Timahoe Road and, following consultation with Laois County Council, it is planned to have access from the Timahoe Road and from Lismard Roundabout.

A key feature of the development will be a dedicated ‘park and stride’ that will allow for safe drop off and collection within walking distance of all schools in the area.

Mr Cunningham said this should help ease the current traffic congestion.

“Every school has congestion at opening and closing time but the dedicated ‘park and stride’ serving all schools, along with the completion of the distributor road, should significantly help the current situation,” he said.

He added that LOETB will complete the conveyancing of the site while developing a schedule of accommodation in consultation with the Department of Education to progress to the appointment of a Design Team for construction.

Chair of the Dunamase College Board of Management Liam O’Neill welcomed the news highlighting the certainty it now gives for the community.

“The school is fortunate to have such a fine temporary home on Railway Street which has greatly supported the establishment and growth of the school. News of the location for the permanent building will strengthen the educational development of the school," he said. 

Councillors Caroline Dwane-Stanley, Catherine Fitzgerald, and Mary Sweeney are members of LOETB and the Dunamase College Board of Management. They welcomed the provision of a dedicated ‘park and stride’ facility to help alleviate congestion at busy school times. 

Cllr Caroline Dwane Stanley said she will urge that the steps towards getting the school complete are done as quickly as possible.

"This year there are 115 new students so next year it will be a challenge to cater for more new students, I will be urging that things like planning permission get through as quickly as possible,” she said.

Dunamase College is a post-primary school in Portlaoise under the patronage of LOETB. The school opened in September 2017. The 2019/2020 school year will see the first Junior Cert cycle complete in the school. 

The school has an Aonad Lán-Gaeilge which allows students to study all curricular subjects as Gaeilge.

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