NEW SCHOOL

Coláiste Chú Chulainn parents issue letter condemning handover delay

The Parents Council have hit out at the delays and poor communication

Barry Landy

Reporter:

Barry Landy

Email:

barry.landy@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Coláiste Chú Chulainn parents issue letter condemning handover delay

The new school is stil under construction and won't be ready for September, officials say.

A group of parents of students in Coláiste Chú Chulainn in Dundalk have written to locals TDs and councillors airing their displeasure at the continued delay in the new school build. 

In a letter seen by the Dundalk Democrat, the school's Parents Council expressed their 'frustration and disappointment' at the latest development which now looks like delaying the school opening beyond September and the start of the new 2018/19 academic year. 

'As concerned parents & members of Coláiste Chú Chulainn Parents Council, we would like to express our frustration and disappointment in relation to the additional delays in the handover of our new long awaited school at the Marshes site,' the letter reads. 

'Mr. Pentony, director of services – Louth County Council, is aware of our continued frustration dating back to a meeting in 2014 in the Crowne Plaza hotel, in relation to the Compulsory Purchase Order.

'As a matter of courtesy to us as parents, students, the principal and staff of Coláiste Chú Chulainn we feel we should not have heard this news on social media and local papers. There was no communication with us the people who are directly affected by this set back,' it continued. 

Last week the Dundalk Democrat reported that the issue regarding an ESB substation in close proximity to Bishop's Court had been overcome, with a potential judicial review called on by residents turned down. However, Louth County Council last week told councillors at their April meeting that the latest development did not mean the school would be ready in time for September. 

In fact, Director of Services Frank Pentony confirmed that while the local authority were working with contractors Ganson on speeding up the process of construction, the new build would not be ready for students. 

'Over the years we have been more than patient and accommodating to the local County Council and the LMETB. Our concern is now for our students especially those entering the senior cycle, who will face disruption to studies during term time,
having to move mid-year, in this a very critical and stressful time in their education,' the letter continued. 

'Many parents of our incoming students have voiced their concerns about the move from primary to secondary school and feel this is an extra challenge for these young people as they try to make this massive transition.

'Many of us, adults and young people feel let down badly by the local authority. Going forward we would appreciate if a meeting could be arranged as soon as possible with all interested parties, that parents, students and staff are addressed and our concerns heard and fear alleviated.'

On Monday this week, LMETB CEO Martin O'Brien met with the school's Board of Management, a meeting in which he 'reassured' the Board that everything was being done to get the long-awaited school open. The build of the 1,000 pupil new school at the Marshes has been plauged by problems and delays in recent years. 

It was originally earmarked for opening in September 2014. The new building will also house Coláiste Lú post-primary Gaelscoil. 

Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat last week, LMETB chairman and Louth County councillor Tomas Sharkey told us he felt the local authority should no longer be in charge of such school build projects. 

"The students from Coláiste Lú and Coláiste Chú Chulainn deserve the best building, the best school in Co. Louth," Sharkey said. "That’s what they’re going to get.”

"The roadblock of a potential judicial review is now cleared off. The builders have a clear run to continue the work without having to use a generator from here on in. 

"But it is bad news because the children and the parents and the staff had expected that the building would be ready for June - and it's not. I'm not happy about that but I want to be balanced in this. 

"We're learning a lesson here as well. Going forward, I would not be comfortable with a county council being the lead provider of school buildings," he continued.

"I do believe the Education & Training and the Department of Education are better placed to provide schools quicker, more efficiently, more effectively and to get the students to school on time. 

When it came to the suggestion that some parts of the school may be ready for classes in September, Sharkey said it was something to consider going forward while admitting there would be viable concerns over safety.

"It's something I want to consider," he stated. "I'm not too sure how we could go forward with putting students in one part of the building while the rest of the building is in construction. 

"There'll be child safety to consider. Can you have one part of a building electrified without the rest of it being fused? I don't know how it's going to pan out."