More pre-fabs bought rather than rented
THE number of new rental pre-fab contracts for schools plummeted from 266 in 2008 to just 20 last year.
But there is a long away to go before pre-fabs become a thing of the past as hundreds of schools still have rental contracts.
Others are now opting to buy rather than rent pre-fabs and by the end of last year 557 schools had been approved funding to buy pre-fabs or build a permanent classroom. Of that, 249 schools said that they will buy pre-fabs and 201 will build a permanent classroom. The rest have yet to indicate their preference.
Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe said his priority was to cut the number of long-term pre-fab rentals.
But he agreed that far too much was still being spent renting pre-fabs -- €39m last year, compared to €53m the year before. "The common sense cost-cutting policies I have introduced, as well as the Government's sustained investment in the school building programme, are now delivering much better value for taxpayers' money," Mr O'Keeffe said.
But the Irish National Teachers Organisation said the reduced bill still represented poor value for money. It said prefabs, whether bought or rented, were unsuitable educational accommodation and pointed out that in 2007 and 2008 nearly 1,000 new prefab contracts were agreed.
Meanwhile, Educate Together, the patron body for 56 multi-denominational primary schools, has called for a public debate on school choice as primary schools new and old will require €100m of taxpayers' money over the next 20 years.