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Schools Building Projects.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 3 July 2008

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Questions (10, 11)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

8 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science when it is intended to restore the school building programme to the scale indicated in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26052/08]

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Joan Burton

Question:

10 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will confirm that capital investment will amount to almost €830 million in 2008 of which less than €600 million will be invested in school buildings, including the completion of work on 67 large scale projects, the opening of 27 new schools in rapidly developing areas in September 2008 and construction work on more than 150 devolved projects under the previous permanent accommodation schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26073/08]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 10 together.

My Department's total capital allocation for 2008 is €827m. Just under €600m of this allocation will be invested in school buildings.

The extent of the school building and modernisation programme is determined by the annual capital allocation. This has grown steadily in recent years from just under €400m in 2004 to €542m in 2007 and to over €586m this year.

The principal component of the school building and modernisation programme is the delivery of large scale projects which consist of either new schools or major extensions or refurbishments of existing schools.

In 2007, a total of 16 new schools were completed together with 44 extension/refurbishment projects giving an overall total of 60 large scale projects completed in 2007.

The expected completion of large scale projects in 2008 will consist of 21 new schools and 46 extension/refurbishment projects giving an overall total of 67 large scale projects completing in 2008.

An additional feature of the 2008 school building and modernisation programme is the provision of new schools in developing areas under an accelerated programme. To cater for the anticipated increases in the school-going population, my Department has established a Developing Areas Unit to identify areas of rapid population growth, to assess the educational needs in these areas and to plan solutions for the accommodation needs identified.

As part of a fast-track programme of construction for September 2008, the Department is building six 16-classroom schools, 20 eight-classroom schools and a number of smaller projects in those areas where school accommodation is under greatest pressure.

Under the Permanent Accommodation and Small Schools Scheme in 2007, a total of 130 projects were completed. To date in 2008, a total of 52 projects under these devolved projects have been completed while a further 174 projects are currently under construction. In addition, a further 148 devolved projects have not yet gone on site but it is expected that the majority of these will be under construction before year-end.

With such a high level of activity underway, the completion of buildings in 2008 under these devolved schemes will significantly exceed the number of projects completed in 2007.

As I have already stated, the capital allocation on the Primary and Post-Primary sectors for 2008 is over €40m greater than the allocation in 2007. However, I should point out that a supplementary estimate and internal adjustments in 2007 gave a final outturn for that year of €646m of which over €30m was in respect of a technical adjustment in respect of payments to the OPW the previous year.

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.

As the programme for the delivery of large scale projects and the purchase of sites is a larger component of the 2008 school building and modernisation programme than in previous years, it was not possible to have a Summer Works Scheme this year. Because over 250 projects under the devolved Permanent Accommodation or Small Schools Schemes had not managed to commence construction at the beginning of 2008, it was decided not to add further projects to the programme without substantial progress taking place on those projects not yet on site.

The primary and post-primary capital allocation for 2008 is higher than the 2007 allocation and the combined output of traditional build schools and extension and refurbishment projects together with the schools fast-tracked for delivery in September 2008 will result in the practical completion of far more large scale projects than the level of output experienced in 2007. When the large scale projects are combined with the expected level of projects being completed under the Permanent Accommodation and Small Schools Schemes this year, it is clear that the scale of delivery in 2008 addressing accommodation needs is at an all time high.

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. I do not propose to make any further announcements on the school building programme until that review is completed.

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