Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 1 Dec 1998

Vol. 157 No. 9

Adjournment Matters. - School Building Projects.

I thank the Minister of State for coming to the House and I guarantee him I will be as brief as possible. I am particularly delighted he is taking this matter because he knows Cappawhite well.

A request was forwarded to the Department of Education and Science by Cappawhite national school, County Tipperary, for an extension containing classrooms and a general purposes room. There has been a steady increase in the number of pupils attending the school over recent years and, as a result, there has been huge pressure on space in the school. The school has had to use prefabs and its classrooms are overcrowded, which leads to a very difficult situation for students and teachers.

I was contacted by the school's board of management and also by teachers who are very concerned about this situation. The teachers have made huge efforts. As the Minister of State knows, Cappawhite is a very nice area and in recent weeks the school won a prize, in a competition on organised by South Tipperary County Council, as one of the tidiest schools in south Tipperary. They are very proud of that prize. The request for the matter to be raised at this level was made at the presentation of the prizes and I guaranteed them I would raise it. Given how well the Minister of State knows Cappawhite, I am sure he will respond very positively.

I am glad the Senator has given me the opportunity of outlining to the House the current position regarding the proposed extension to Cappawhite national school, County Tipperary. At present, the school has a staffing level of one principal, four assistant teachers and a shared remedial teacher. The school's enrolment was 149 pupils on 30 September 1997. My Department has accepted that the current school building requires to be extended and refurbished in order to meet modern educational requirements. In this regard, I have authorised the commencement of architectural planning of a building project at the school and I informed the school accordingly. Work has commenced on the planning of the project, which is being designed by the Department's architectural staff.

The current position is that the project is at sketch scheme stage. There is a number of stages in the process, including preparation of the planning permission and fire safety application, securing of planning permission, preparation of detailed design drawings, preparation of tender and contract documentation, invitation of tenders, tender evaluation and appointment of a suitable contractor. Due to the number of steps involved, it is not realistic for me at this early stage of the process to give a timescale for construction. However, I can assure the Senator that every effort will be made to ensure that progress is expedited in consultation with the school management. Due to my great personal knowledge of the area, I will make inquiries on the matter and I will write to Senator Hayes within the next day or two.