Seanad Éireann - Volume 163 - 30 June, 2000

Adjournment Matter. - School Accommodation.

Mr. Costello: Fáilte romhat a Aire. I want to raise a matter on the Adjournment to which I hope the Minister of State can give me a satisfactory answer. It is the last item before the summer recess and it would be nice to end on a positive and successful note. I raise the matter of the need for the Minister for Education and Science to fast-track procedures in the building section to ensure that the extra classrooms required in St. John Bosco Senior Boys' School are provided.

The area adjacent to St. John Bosco Senior Boys' School on the Navan road in my constitutency is a burgeoning residential area whose population is increasing at an inordinate rate, having doubled in the past 20 years. A total of [1919] 500 houses have been built in the past four years and there are major plans for expansion in development. A total of 400 units of accommodation are planned for Pelletstown and development is planned for the Phoenix Park Racecourse—

Mr. T. Fitzgerald: The country is doing well.

Mr. Costello: There is always a downside when the country is doing well. We must provide the necessary facilities and the amenities as well as the built environment. While an inordinate amount of residential development is planned for Pelletstown and the Phoenix Park Racecourse area, which are part of the same parish, major developments have taken place in recent years, including the Riverstown development and developments in the surrounding areas.

As a result the school is bursting at the seams. It has a changing room that is currently used as a classroom and as a resource room. This school requires three extra classrooms immediately. The number of pupils enrolled will warrant the provision of an extra classroom teacher in September. The existing number of students warrants the provision of an extra classroom. The school requires a classroom for the visiting resource teacher, Mrs. Flynn. It requires a multi-purpose room for parents and various activities.

I am sure that even by this time next year a further one or two additional classrooms will be required because of the nature of the expansion of the school. If arrangements for the provision of additional classrooms for that school are not fast-tracked to meet the immediate requirements, the requirements will have doubled by this time next year.

The Minister of State's Department is in a position to speed matters up depending on their degree of urgency. Given that there is no shortage of funding available, there should no problem in providing the best educational and classroom facilities for the students concerned. The staff in the school are conscientious and they have requested extra classrooms in the normal fashion, but they are concerned they will not be provided in time to meet the need that exists.

That is at the basis of my request. I urge the Minister of State to use his good offices to ensure that all the necessary work will be carried out during the summer to ensure bright and shiny classrooms await the bright new students in September as they enter their next year of education.

[1920] Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science (Mr. Treacy): I am glad the Senator has given me the opportunity to outline to the House the current position of the Department of Education and Science regarding the provision of additional accommodation at St. John Bosco Senior Boys' School, Navan Road, Dublin.

The current staffing level of the school includes a principal, 15 assistant teachers, a remedial teacher and a shared resource teacher. The Department of Education and Science has received an application from the management authorities of the school seeking grant assistance towards additional permanent classrooms and ancillary accommodation.

This application is being examined in the context of a range of factors, including proposed housing development and the capacity of other schools in the general area. This examination will enable our Department to establish the likely pattern of future enrolments and, in that way, to determine the amount of school accommodation required. If necessary, the school authorities may apply to the Department of Education and Science for the provision of temporary accommodation for the short term.

The Senator will appreciate that there is a large number of school building projects on hand within our Department. Because of the priority this Government has given to reversing the neglect of our primary schools evident previously, the spending Estimates show primary school building and renovation funding increasing by an unprecedented 186% from the 1997 budget allocation. In addition, we have reduced significantly the burden of fundraising faced by schools and communities throughout the country.

I can assure the Senator that the application by the management authorities of St. John Bosco Senior Boys' National School will be processed as speedily as possible.

To the Acting Chairman, the Assistant Clerk of the House, the staff and Members of the House, I wish to say how grateful I and my Government colleagues are for the co-operation that has been afforded to us during this session. Members can be assured that the Government intends to ensure there is peace, economic progress and political sustainability in Oireachtas Éireann for at least another year and we will review the matter this time next year. I wish the House a very good summer recess.

The Seanad adjourned sine die.