New school announcements welcomed, but delay in upgrades ‘worrying’ – Funchion
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Kathleen Funchion TD has welcomed the announcement of 44 new schools by the Department of Education and Skills this morning, but has expressed concern about the 575 schools who have applied for major refurbishments that may now languish further.
Deputy Funchion said:
“I welcome the Minister’s announcement of the Department’s intention to build 44 new schools over the next 4 years, including a new primary school for Kilkenny City West, but I would have concerns about his plans.
“Have sites been selected for these schools? Particularly the schools to be built by next year, with planning permission and design completed?
“Who will be building the schools? This is extremely important as we have seen from the disastrous result of PPP’s on the building of our schools in recent months.
“The Carillion collapse left 5 schools initially without any idea when their school will now be complete.
“Then the announcement by Sammon Group that they are now in examinership following their withdrawal from a number of sites as a direct result of the Carillion collapse.
“There are issues with the selection of locations for new schools. Kildare South is receiving no new schools, yet there are three Educate Together Primary Schools there but no Educate Together secondary school and not enough places in other post primary schools to cater for the children.
“There are a huge number of existing schools within our communities who have a dire need for major refurbishments to their current buildings, including schools here in Kilkenny.
“Schools that are hugely reliant on extremely aged prefabs as classrooms, no PE facilities, and heating issues to name only a few need to have their refurbishment applications granted some have been waiting years on funding that has not been forthcoming.
“The Minster needs to clarify where the funding for these schools is coming from as they were not included in the budget allocation for Education this year and if money is to be taken from other areas where capital expenditure was allocated then this would need approval through a supplementary estimate.
“We cannot build new schools, to the detriment of existing schools who are currently serving the community and the Minister and his Department need to address this immediately.”