Written answers

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Department of Education and Science

Schools Building Projects

12:00 pm

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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Question 53: To ask the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the review of the school building capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44127/09]

Photo of Batt O'KeeffeBatt O'Keeffe (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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As I have indicated previously to the House, I am currently in the process of reviewing my Department's school building and modernisation programme with my officials in the context of the Estimates for 2010. I intend making a further announcement on the school building programme when that review has been completed.

Decisions in respect of the expenditure of the annual allocation are made on the basis of the elements of the school building and modernisation programme that are most pressing in terms of need.

The Forward Planning Section of my Department has carried out a study of the country to identify the areas where, due to demographic changes, there may be a requirement for significant additional school provision at primary and post-primary levels over the coming years. The study indicates that the requirement for additional primary provision in 2010, 2011 and 2012 is likely to be greatest in 42 selected locations across the country, based on significant changes to the demographic profile of those areas.

This information has been circulated to all existing school Patrons who have been invited to bring forward proposals for the expansion of existing schools or indeed to put themselves forward as Patron for any new primary school, should it be required. The requirement for the establishment of new schools will of course be lessened where it is possible to expand and extend existing schools in those areas.

In addition, this Government has shown a consistent determination to improve the condition of our existing school buildings and to ensure that the appropriate facilities are in place to enable the implementation of a broad and balanced curriculum in those schools.

The principal component of the school building and modernisation programme is, and will remain, the delivery of large scale projects which consist of either new schools or major extensions or refurbishments of existing schools. However, the level of demand on the school building programme is such that all projects cannot be carried out together. They will have to be carried out over time in a structured and coherent manner and that is the reasoning behind the Department's published prioritisation criteria.

Other factors which have to be taken into consideration include contractual commitments which will be carried into 2010 from this years programme and the procurement of sites where this is necessary.

I should add that in addition to the major projects, there are a number of other schemes in operation, such as the Summer Works Scheme, the Energy Efficiency Scheme, the Permanent Accommodation Scheme and the Emergency Works Scheme.

All of these factors will inform the Departments Building Programme for 2010 and subsequent years.


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