Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Education and Skills
Schools Building Projects Status
197. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the rationale for the time delays with regard to the construction of a school (details supplied); and if the project is still within budget. [9332/19]
The project to which the Deputy refers is a new school comprising 16 classrooms and a Special Educational Needs base. The site has been master planned for 24 classrooms in recognition of possible future demographic growth in the area. The project has been devolved to Westmeath County Council (WCC) for delivery.
The project had been scheduled for completion for September 2018. However, the contractor experienced a number of issues such as unforeseen ground conditions and the severe weather events of late 2017 and early 2018. The expected completion date for the project is now July 2019.
The ongoing delay of this project is extremely disappointing and frustrating for all parties involved. It is, however, in the nature of any building project, whether it is a school, an office block or a house, that unforeseen issues can arise. The objective always is to deal with these as efficiently as possible to minimise delay.
WCC is continuing to pursue the contractor for as speedy a delivery of the project as possible. It has the full support of my Department in its efforts to achieve this without compromising the integrity of the building being delivered.
To ensure that the school is kept fully up to date with progress on the project, WCC is issuing monthly progress reports to the school's Board of Management. This approach will provide accurate and precise information to help the school to plan and manage its needs until its permanent accommodation is available. The Deputy may also wish to note that officials from Department recently joined WCC at a meeting with the school authority so as to discuss and address its concerns.
The budget for this project included a contingency for unforeseen circumstances. The Deputy can be assured that any deviation from the budget due to unforeseen circumstance is being closely monitored by both Westmeath County Council and officials from my Department.