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Schools Refurbishment.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 3 July 2008

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Questions (9)

Michael Creed


7 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the summer works scheme. [26183/08]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

In 2003/2004, my Department moved towards a model of devolving funding, responsibility and authority for building projects directly to school management authorities. The intention was to improve the quality of the school building infrastructure in a structured and prioritised manner, to improve efficiency in the use of resources and to achieve value for money. The Summer Works Scheme introduced in 2004, was one such solution.

The purpose of the Summer Works Scheme was to ensure precise targeting of funding for smaller scale works by using a time-bound process, from application to implementation, which would be open to all recognised schools. The works would be carried out in the summer months to prevent disruption to schools.

Under the terms of the Scheme, school authorities are empowered to manage these works with guidance from, and minimal interaction with, my Department.

The Scheme has enabled the Department and school authorities to address deficiencies arising from the historic under-investment in school infrastructure over the years. This is particularly the case in relation to upgrading of gas, mechanics and electrics and addressing structural defects. Projects to facilitate inclusion and access for special needs pupils are also a feature of the scheme.

Since its inception, the scheme has been refined annually to incorporate feedback both from school authorities and from staff administering the Scheme. It has also been amended where necessary to reflect any changes in Public Procurement Procedures and Health and Safety regulations.

Since the Summer Works Scheme was introduced, over 3,000 projects, costing in excess of €300 million, have been completed. With so many smaller projects having been completed over the past few years, the particular emphasis in 2008 is on providing sufficient school places in developing areas, while also delivering improvements in the quality of existing primary and post-primary school accommodation throughout the country. Accordingly my Department is focusing on delivering as many large projects as possible in 2008 and funding was not made available for a Summer Works Scheme this year.

However, I recognise the benefits of the scheme in addressing the needs of schools and I intend to have a Summer Works Scheme in 2009.