Relief as NWETSS lease extended 'at the 12th hour'
The lease on North Wicklow Educate Together's temporary premises has been extended to at least June 2020 as the school awaits a permanent home.
The Department of Education and Skills announced last week that agreement had been reached, as the current lease was due to expire on April 30 and a new building has not yet been provided.
Principal of the school Jonathan Browner said that staff and students and their families are all relieved to have received this news.
'My understanding with regard to a permanent building is that the Minister has directed KWETB to cooperate with architectural planning around the site on Novara Road,' said Mr Browner. 'We are now calling for the department to get on with the planning and the building of the school.' He said that the site was chosen by the department, not by the school, although they are very happy with the site. 'We acknowledge the concerns others may have but we think they can be addressed. I think there is room for people ot talk and cooperate on what is best for all of the students of north County Wicklow. We are open to talk about how everyone can cooperate in making it a big success.'
'Getting agreement on extending the lease was not straightforward as there was a High Court settlement between the owner of the temporary premises where NWETSS is currently located and the KWETB dating from 2015,' said Deputy John Brady.
'Vacant possession of that premises on 30 April 2019 was included in the settlement. To further complicate the situation the site where the school is located was also for sale.'
The department looked at a number of alternative options and carried out site visits to ensure that a contingency plan was in place if the lease could not be extended.
Deputy Brady said, however, that the department had 'left it essentially to the 12th hour and that caused fear and anxiety for many'.
NEWTSS opened in September 2016 in temporary accommodation on Putland Road.
The school has 180 pupils and 60 of those are due to do their Junior Cert next year.
The school is expected to have a total of 300 pupils next September and ultimately have 1,000 pupils at permanent accommodation.
'While the latest change is a welcome reprieve there are still long-term concerns for NWETS,' said Deputy Stephen Donnelly.
'The Minister for Education has indicated it is his "clear intention" that the school will still move to a newly-built, permanent residence on the Novara Road in Bray on the campus of Bray Institute of Further Education,' said Deputy Donnelly. 'However there has been little progress on the move and the lack of information is making people anxious.'
The Kildare Wicklow Education and Training Board said last year that it does not wish to have the new secondary school building co-located on the campus of BIFE.