A DECISION on a new school for South Kildare will be made within weeks, minister for education Richard Bruton has said. The minister was speaking during a visit to South Kildare last Friday to officially open Gaelscoil Mhic Aodha in Kildare town.
A group called South Kildare Educate Together Second Level (SKET2NDLEVEL) has campaigned for several years for a new school to cater for children who attend the Educate Together national schools in Newbridge and Kildare town. Minister Bruton said that because of new data presented to him by South Kildare TD Martin Heydon his department was reviewing the need for a new school for South Kildare.
Speaking to reporters after the official opening of Gaelscoil Mhic Aodha, minister Bruton said: “The Department has planned for 1,700 new school places through the extension of existing schools in Newbridge, Kilcullen and Athy. The issue is whether this is sufficient. We are going to review the data and we hope to be in a position to do that within a few weeks.
“Forty percent of new school places are met by extensions and we only approve new schools where the existing schools don’t have the capacity to expand to meet the need. The same model is applied to all 314 planning areas and we decided there in the last few weeks that 42 new schools should be announced both at primary and secondary level. So we need to review that in South Kildare and that is what will now be done.”
SKET spokeswoman Aideen McDonagh said she was delighted to hear what minister Bruton had said.
“We are delighted that the minister is to make an announcement within a few weeks,” she said. “He had indicated that this was the case in the last few weeks from responses he gave to parliamentary questions which had been asked by deputy Martin Heydon. In those answers, the minister had indicated that the department is paying very close attention to South Kildare and that they are aware of the pressures on existing schools. The minister says he is looking at new data; we don’t know what that data is, but we are very happy that a decision is likely in the very near future.”
Ms McDonagh said that they are hopeful of a positive announcement whenever the decision is made.
“If we do receive good news, we will be looking for the new school to be fast tracked and built as soon as possible. If the news isn’t what we hoped for, we will continue campaigning because the children who need this school aren’t going away and neither will we as a campaign group.”
- Meanwhile, the minister also announced that if the design and tendering work can be concluded ahead of schedule for St Paul’s Secondary School in Monasterevin, his department would facilitate an earlier start date for construction.
Minister Bruton said: “We have this school marked down for starting later in 2019. There is hope that the school can get the design and tendering process in place quicker than that and if it is, we will seek to facilitate the school.”
St Paul’s Secondary School principal Brian Bergin welcomed the minister’s comments.
“This is wonderful news from the minister,” he said. “The design team are busy working to ensure that the project is ready to go to construction as soon as possible and our hope is that the acquisition of the site doesn’t delay the construction project. This investment by the state in a community like Monasterevin is badly needed and is welcomed by everyone here.”