Contruction officially began this week on a much discussed new building project at St Mary’s College.
OnThursday morning last (January 8) it was announced that building had commenced on four post-primary schools throughout the country this week, including St Mary’s College Dundalk, under the Schools Bundle 4 of the Public Private Partnership Programme.
The programme has been touted as a measure to “ensure that schools are equipped for the growing numbers of young people in our secondary school system”, a system which is expected to grow in size until 2026.
“Work actually began on Monday,” Deputy Principal Gerry Lambe told the Democrat. “It is set for completion in April of 2016.”
The capacity of the school will be increased by 200, meaning the school could potentially cater for 900 pupils.
“It’s was a fantastic confirmation to us that it was actually going ahead. It’s only when builders on site that you actually believe it’s going to happen.
“It will have the latest technologies and it will have an A2 rating in terms of energy efficiecy. The indoor and outdoor facilities will be fantstic for us and will allow us to develop our curriculum and introduce new subjects, so it is really exciting.”
Mr Lambe said there would be ‘virtually no disruption” to the school on a day to day basis.
“The only disruption will be the use of our playing pitches, which we will overcome. Apart from that the site will be completely separate from the school.”
The project however was one that has caused some controvesy, with some residents in the area objecting to the project.
Roughly 40 residents objected to the plan in early 2014 and branded a residents meeting with the school at the time as a “PR stunt”.
Objections were made on a number of grounds, with the issue of flooding in the area being at the forefront of resident’s concerns.
Mr Lambe said to his “knowledge” the issues with objections had been put to rest.
The move has been welcomed by Senator Mary Moran, a former teacher at St Vincents, who said: “‘I am delighted that work has commenced for the new school building which will provide a quality learning and teaching environment for students and teachers at St. Mary’s College.
“There have a been a number of welcome announcements recently for Co. Louth in relation to school building projects. Prior to Christmas, Minister O’Sullivan announced that St Patrick’s NS in Drogheda will be getting a major new extension; while St Buite’s in Dunleer has been allocated a new school building; as has Gaelscoil an Brhadáin Feasa in Mornington Co. Meath.
These recent school building announcements also come on the heels of 73 primary schools in Louth receiving a total of €727,415 under the Minor Works Grant scheme. This scheme enables schools to pay for basic running costs and the maintenance of grounds, buildings and equipment. ‘This further investment in our educational infrastructure not only benefits pupils and teachers but reverberates throughout the local community in the form of jobs during the building process.”
‘I look forward to the positive effect that the new school building for St. Mary’s College will have on the school community.”