Seanad debates

Thursday, 27 November 2003

Adjournment Matters. - Schools Building Programme.


10:30 am

Fergal Browne (Fine Gael)
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I welcome the Minister of State to the House. My request is simple. Presentation College secondary school in Carlow is awaiting word on a proposed extension. There are 650 pupils in this excellent school and it offers a comprehensive set of educational programmes through junior cycle, transition year, the traditional leaving certificate, the leaving certificate vocational programme and the leaving certificate applied. The school is not designated as disadvantaged, but many of the pupils who attend it are from disadvantage backgrounds.

Carlow is a growing town and this is having an impact on the school. The staff, parents and students are concerned about the slow rate of progress with the building of the proposed extension to the school. The school also rejects the classification of the project as a band 3 priority. I ask the Minister to look at that classification again with a view to revising it.

The school does not have a proper PE hall and the hall that is being used has been the scene of many accidents, one of which was serious and resulted in a major insurance claim. As part of the new extension, the school is pushing for a purpose built PE hall.

The career guidance teacher's office is four square metres in size and the school library and oratory are being used as general classrooms. Special needs students are often taken for tuition in the year heads' offices. There is a severe accommodation problem. I hope the Minister of State will use his power and influence to advance the school's building plans so that they are undertaken as soon as possible. The list for the coming year is being formulated and this school deserves special attention.

Tom Parlon (Minister of State, Department of Finance; Laois-Offaly, Progressive Democrats)
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I am glad the Senator has given me the opportunity to outline to the House on behalf of the Minister for Education and Science the current position regarding the allocation of funding for school building projects.

The 2003 schools building programme is on the Department's website and is designed to give the maximum amount of information concerning the schools capital programme to managers, boards of management, principals, parents, students and all other interested parties. The criteria used for selecting projects was also published for the first time.

The large scale building project for Presentation College, Askea, County Carlow, is listed in section 6 of the 2003 schools building programme. This project is at stage 4, detail design, of architectural planning. It has been assigned a band 3 rating by the Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising large scale projects.

The Department of Education and Science intends to publish the details of the 2004 schools building programme by early January at the latest. The programme will clarify what progress is planned for projects such as Presentation College during 2004. I thank the Senator for giving me the opportunity to outline the current position to the House.

The Seanad adjourned at 5.15 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 2 December 2003.