Work is to start on the construction of a new primary school at Blackrock before the end of February, and is due to be completed in time for the start of the new school year in September next.
Stewart Builders from Galway with a fine reputation for such work has been awarded the contract to build the eight classroom building for Saint Francis School that is currently accommodated in temporary accommodation at the Community Centre that serves the parish and is located beside the village’s public park.
The news has been warmly welcomed by parish priest Very Rev. Padraig Keenan and local politicians Councillor Linus English and Senator Jim Darcy.
The school has under a 100 pupils and a staff of seven, including four teachers. It will be re- located at a green field site at Rock Road, a short distance from the schools present home. It will comprise two-storeys and cater for over 200 pupils. Four additional classrooms for learning support etc, a library, general purpose room, staff room and office will also be included in the building.
The site was bought some time ago by the Department of Education. Plans were drawn up for the school in April 2011 and planning approval granted by Louth County Council that December.
Two appeals were lodged against the decision with An Bord Pleanala. The planning permission was upheld in October and tenders for the project were sought.
Councillor Linus English said he was “absolutely delighted” that the building is to start. Hopefully some local people will gain some work.”
He also said it was important that work is to commence shortly on a pedestrian crossing close to the school at the junction of the Old Golf links Road and Rock Road and on a footpath from there past the new school to Taaffes Corner at the junction of Rock Road and Seafield Road. This work also is to be finished in time for the opening of the new school.
Father Keenan who is chairman of the school Board of Management said “it is good news for all concerned who had been working all along through the Board of Management (for this to happen). It’s a great boost to the Board of Management, teaching staff and pupils”
Senator Darcy said he was” pleased for the pupils, parents, staff and the Board of Management. I’m particularly pleased for the principal Oreena Lawless who has been doing a great job in tough conditions and the Board of Management members who worked so hard on this project.”
He was also “pleased to hear the contractor is making contact with the people who made submissions at the planning stage, expressing some reservations, particularly on traffic issues. I hope their concerns can be addressed.”
St. Francis was established in September 2007 with two teachers and 20 pupils on the roll with the existing Saint Oliver’s School running at capacity with no further room to cater for the growing number of pupils in Blackrock. It now has classes for pupils from junior infants as far as third class.