Next stage confirmed to plan new Kolbe Special School

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Next stage confirmed to plan new Kolbe Special School

The Kolbe special school in Portlaoise

The only Laois school that cares for children with profound special needs is awaiting a new purpose-built building for many years.

Kolbe Special School in Portlaoise is one step closer now in latest news confirmed this Thursday, April 22.

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD has confirmed that the project is going to the next planning stage, for detailed designs and a planning application.

"Please be advised that Kolbe Special School, Portlaoise, RN 20100P, has recently been authorised to progress to Stage 2b – Detailed Design which includes applications for all statutory consents, including Planning Permission, Disability Access Certificate and Fire Safety Certificate and also the preparation of tender documentation," she said.

The new replacement school building designed for special needs pupils will be on a greenfield site, set aside for many years beside the school on the Block Road. 

The single storey building will have 8 classrooms and ancillary accommodation including a General Purpose room, a Home Economics Room, a Daily Living Skills room, library and resource area.

Sean Fleming TD Minister of State, Department of Finance announced the progress for Kolbe Special School, Portlaoise.

"This authorisation by the Minister will be very welcome news to everybody involved and associated with Kolbe Special School, who have been waiting a long time for progress on this very important project.

"Today is a good day and I will continue to ensure progress continues for the new school. At all times during the General Election 2020 I publicly stated  that the Kolbe Special School was my No1 priority school in the County. I am now delivering on this election commitment," Minister Fleming said.

Laois/Offaly TD Charlie Flanagan also welcomed progress and reaffirmed the new school for Kolbe as a priority issue for 2021 and would like to see work commencing before the year is out.

Back in 2018, the then Minister Flanagan said he was informed by Minister Richard Bruton that the Department of Education was finalising the development of the project brief with a view to progressing the project into architectural planning.

Deputy Flanagan has also welcomed the new progress, saying that the new school for Kolbe is a priority issue for 2021 and he would like to see work commencing before the year is out.

In 2018, the Leinster Express visited the school to find that five of the seven classrooms as well as the nurses room are in prefabs. There was no room for PE or therapies due to the increase of pupils many of whom need the space for wheelchairs.

Deputy Principal Kate Steed said at that time that a new school was promised since she began working there in 2006.

“These children have already got such a hard road ahead, and then for every other child in Portlaoise to get a new school. Our most vulnerable are left last, not even last, they are just left. There is no sign of a new school, we get told something is happening then it doesn’t. This was never designed to be a school, it was a care facility".