Tuesday, 9 December 2003
Adjournment Matter. - Schools Refurbishment.
I ask the Minister for Education and Science to provide the House with an update regarding the urgent need for a sports hall for Palmerstown community school and the community of Palmerstown. This sports hall was scheduled by the Department of Education and Science to be built by 2001 as part of an initiative involving the Department of Social and Family Affairs, the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Education and Science. It was one of six sports halls that were to be provided under the drugs task force initiative. In addition, it was required by the school because it was one of the remaining community schools without such a facility. I understand there are only three community schools that do not have a sports hall. Many new schools include such a facility. I require an update from the Minister on this matter.
This is one of six schools where sports halls were to be provided under the drugs task force initiative, but only one of them has gone ahead. I realise the Minister will not be able to give that information to me today, but two schools relatively close to where I live, which are not under the terms of the drugs task force initiative, received approval for sports halls. Obviously those sports halls were needed, but it is worrying that something that was considered necessary for the community under this particular project left Palmerstown community school on the long finger. It is also a concern that only one out of six has gone ahead.
I am a member of the board of management of Palmerstown community school. I will be attending my last meeting tomorrow as I have tendered my resignation with effect from next January. I wanted to make it clear that I am on the board of management, but as a local public representative and as someone who lives near the area, I believe it is an important local issue. Palmerstown does not have that type of facility for the community. It does not have a community centre or anything like it. It was not just the hopes of the school that were raised regarding the provision of the sports hall. There was also a hope in the community that it would have access to it in some way. This matter was agreed and negotiated with the local community and with the school's board of management. The community has lost out in respect of this facility so it is urgent that the sports hall gets the go ahead, as previously promised. I look forward to the Minister's response.
I thank the Senator for giving me this opportunity of outlining to the House the position of the Department of Education and Science on the proposal for the construction of a sports hall under the drugs task force initiative and the proposed refurbishment and roof repairs for Palmerstown community school.
The 2003 school building programme is on the Department's website and is designed to give the maximum amount of information concerning the schools capital investment 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 proposed sports hall project at Palmerstown community school is listed in section six of the 2003 school building programme. I am pleased to inform the Senator and the House that the architectural design of the project has advanced to stage five – pre-tender documents – of architectural planning. The proposed refurbishment and roof repairs project at the school is listed in section seven of the 2003 school building programme. This project is at stage one – initial sketch scheme – of architectural planning. It has been assigned a band two rating by the Department in accordance with the published criteria for prioritising large scale projects.
The Department of Education and Science intends to publish details of the 2004 school building programme by early January at the latest. The programme will clarify what progress is planned for projects, such as the proposed hall, refurbishment works and roof repairs for Palmerstown community school during 2004. I thank the Senator for giving me the opportunity of outlining the current position to the House.