Tuesday, 10 July 2018
Schools Building Projects Status
This matter concerns the need for the Minister for Education and Skills to provide an update on the next step for the construction of a new state-of-the-art school building for Mungret community college, Mungret, County Limerick. Mungret community college was established in August 2017 as a new school for the Mungret, Raheen and Dooradoyle areas. It is under the principalship of Liam O'Mahoney, Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board is its patron and, the CEO is George O'Callaghan and the chair of the school board is Councillor Daniel Butler. It has proven to be an extremely successful school. In its first year, it had an intake of 96 students. In its second year, it will take in 120 students, which demonstrates substantial demand for the school in the area. The Mungret, Raheen and Dooradoyle areas are projected to have a combined population of approximately 22,000 by 2022, which is less than five years away. A large plan is under way for Mungret Park, which is a development by Limerick City and County Council.
A commitment has been given to build a new school, initially to accommodate 600 pupils. I have had discussions with the Department and the Minister about increasing the size to accommodate a larger number of students, hopefully 800, and devolving the project to Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board to ensure the school is built as quickly as possible.I want to raise the current state of play in terms of the project being devolved to Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board to allow the building of the school to get under way. It is being increased to an 800-pupil school on the basis of 120 students being taken in per year. The school recently secured planning permission for an additional six modular buildings to create eight additional classrooms. The site for Mungret community college school is a greenfield site of 10 acres on the Mungret Park grounds. Everyone involved - the parents, principal, board of management and education and training board - wants this school to be built. Everyone is ready to get the process under way. The key element is for the Department to put the service level agreement in place to allow the project to be devolved in order that Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board can get the process of appointing design team under way. The parents of students at the community college and pupils coming out of primary schools in the area, for example, St. Nessan's and St. Paul's national schools, Gaelscoil an Ráithín and Mungret Educate Together, are keen to see work on this state-of-the-art school building commence. They deserve no less.
I am taking this Commencement matter on behalf of the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Richard Bruton. I thank the Senator for raising the matter as it provides me with an opportunity to update the House on the current position and the next steps in relation to the construction of Mungret community college.
As the Senator will be aware, the provision of a new school for Limerick city west, Mungret community college, is included in the Department’s six-year capital programme. The school will provide capacity for approximately 800 students and will also include a two-classroom special needs unit. The delivery of this new post-primary school has been devolved to Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, ETB, which is the patron body of the school. A service level agreement, SLA, was issued to the ETB on 5 July 2018. When this is signed by the ETB and returned to the Department, it will be then signed and sealed by the Department. The ETB will then commence the process of appointing a design team to design and plan the new school and obtain the necessary statutory approvals, including planning permission, fire certificate and disability access certificate. Following that, the ETB will put the project out to tender for a building contractor to construct the school.
The Minister is not in a position to give a timeframe for these steps as it will be a matter to be determined between the ETB and the design team when appointed. The Department will continue to work closely with the ETB in the context of delivery of the school building project for Mungret. I thank the Senator again for giving me the opportunity to update the House on the new school building project for Mungret.
I thank the Minister of State for that update. I very much welcome that the service level agreement was issued to Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board on 5 July. I have no doubt it will wing its way back to the Department very quickly and allow it to appoint the design team. I commend the school, its principal, Liam O'Mahoney, chairman of the board, Councillor Daniel Butler and the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board under chief executive, George O'Callaghan, for the work they have done in progressing this project. I have enjoyed working with them in bringing it to fruition.
The school is located in a temporary building on the grounds of the old Mungret College, which is an historical building. As the Minister of State will appreciate, many of the buildings are temporary in nature and will have to remain until such a time as the new school is built. Will the Minister of State indicate where matters stand in terms of the location and acquisition of a site from Limerick City and County Council?
Further additional temporary accommodation has recently been approved for the school in question to meet the accommodation needs for 2018-19. The new school, with a long-term projected enrolment of 800 pupils and a two-classroom ASD unit, will be located in Mungret on the greenfield site acquired by the ETB from Limerick City and County Council.
I thank the Minister of State. I will keep an eye on these matters to ensure the building of Mungret Community College and the acquisition of the site on the Mungret Park grounds from Limerick City and County Council proceed as quickly as possible. This is a tremendous addition to the educational fabric of Limerick and the Mungret, Dooradoyle and Raheen area. It is something parents deserve and need.