There is anger amongst parents and supporters that 38 weeks after the permanent site for Drogheda Educate Together Secondary School was approved, plans to build the facility have not progressed beyond the initial stages.
Although delighted that the planning permission for the additional interim accommodation will be lodged before the end of this month, they are ‘shocked and dismayed’ that the development of the permanent school is been continually delayed by discussions between the developer and Meath County Council.
“Our children have already being in Portacabins for three years with limited facilities, are they to see out their school days in Portacabins due to protracted discussions between a developer and Meath County Council,” said Rory Scott, speaking on behalf of the Parents/Guardian Council.
“Over nine months have passed since the Department of Education agreed the school could stay on its current site permanently. The Parent/Guardian Council call on Shannon Homes and Meath County Council in collaboration with the Department of Education to conclude all discussions immediately and proceed with the permanent school development onsite without delay! The interests of the children has to be the only priority”.
Local TD Ged Nash has reiterated his call for the permanent school building project to be brought forward.
“I am again speaking to heartbroken parents and children in East Meath and Drogheda who cannot be accommodated in their school of first choice,” said Deputy Nash.
“The school would of course love to accommodate everyone or at the very least the majority of those who have applied for a place. They simply can’t as the department has limited their first-year places for 2022-2023 to a number well below the level of applications received”.
He said given the demand for places, he is again urging the Minister for Education to instruct her officials to bring forward the building of the new school.
“A Parliamentary Question reply to me this week shows that the planning application for additional interim accommodation for the Mill Road site is ‘currently being finalised and it is anticipated that a planning application will be submitted (to Meath County Council) before the end of this month (November),” he said.
“The reply from Minister Foley goes on to make reference to the school plan having to be ‘cognisant of the overall Shannon Homes Masterplan for the area’ and that the plan ‘has been received by the Department.’
He said it makes him ‘distinctly uncomfortable that the Department of Education would describe a project of this nature as being somehow beholden to or dependent on plans from a property development company’.
“With planning soon to go in for the new interim buildings, the Department has said that ‘work on preparing for the planning application for the permanent accommodation will be progressed in parallel with the local authority’s processing of the interim application,” said the Labour TD.
“The Department cannot stand over the spending of millions of euros more on portakabin-type buildings when it makes sounder financial sense to build the permanent school sooner than they initially intended.”