THERE was great relief for parents, teachers and management of Naas Community College on Thursday when it was announced that the new build could proceed to the next stage of tender.
Acting Chief Executive of Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB), Rory O’ Toole confirmed that KWETB have now reached the ‘pre-qualifying of potential contractors’ stage of the building project. This means that KWETB can move to pre-qualify contractors for the building project. This will ultimately speed up the tendering process for the selecting the building contractor.
Naas Community College will be based in Millennium Park in Naas and will cater for up to 1,000 students. The school is currently, located at Craddockstown in Naas. School Principal, Ciaran Keegan has welcomed the news and confirmed the new school building is most welcome and, with capacity of up to 1,000 students, will meet the needs of the community in Naas.
Welcoming the development, Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. Said: “This is great news for the local Naas community. We are working hard to build new, state-of-the-art facilities across the country and are building around 20,000 extra school places a year. Once built, this new 1,000 pupil school will provide excellent facilities and I wish KWETB the very best with the project.”
Rory O’ Toole has stated that he is looking forward to swift progress on the building and that both KWETB and the Department of Education and Skills are committed to delivering the project as soon as practicable. The school has finally been granted permission by the Department of Education to proceed to the next stage of the construction for the new build at Millennium Park. The school started enrollment in 2014 and has reached maximum capacity at its current temporary home in Craddockstown.
A crisis is looming in Naas as families are concerned they won’t secure a secondary school place unless the new development goes ahead.
The news was welcomed by chairperson of the board of management TD James Lawless. The move comes after sustained lobbying.
“I had been raising the issue with the Minister weekly since Christmas and parents had just commenced a petition and campaign,” said Deputy Lawless.
“The clarity and progress is very welcome and we look forward to moving to the next stage.
“This is a very positive step for the school and also for the wider Naas community. I want to pay credit to principal Ciaran Keegan, the board of management, the ETB and the wider school community for managing the situation to this point.
“We look forward to working with the department and local stakeholders to ensure the project moves quickly through the remaining phases and opens in the new building as soon as possible”.
A campaign had been started recently by a group of parents concerned about a lack of school places and more than 1,000 signatures have been collected.
“Naas and its environs are in dire need of the ASD classes that are part of the plans for this school,” said a spokesperson for the group.
“The school is currently at Stage 2B of the building process & has been awaiting Department of Education & Skills (DES) sanction to move to Stage 3 since November 2017.
“If sanction is given immediately, the earliest time construction can start, following the tender process, is January 2019. The construction phase will take a minimum of eighteen months so the earliest possible time that this school will be completed will be August 2020.”
Naas Community College is currently located in a shared building with Naas Community National School. It will have around 400 students in 2018/2019 academic year and around 520 in the 2019/2020 academic year.
“This will mean that the Craddockstown building will be far in excess of its capacity during 2019/2020. The site will not be able to sustain the two schools during the 2020/2021 academic year,” she added.