Tuesday, March 07, 2023

By Carmel Hayes

THE long-awaited new building for Kolbe Special School in Portlaoise has been put on hold, to the dismay of staff and parents.

The school received a phone call and email from the Department of Education yesterday evening, informing them that the new building has been postponed.

In a message to parents today (see below), the school authorities said: “They have given us no indication of how long this will be. Needless to say, we are very disappointed and frustrated by this news.

“The school’s Board of Management is working on a response to this and we will keep you updated on any developments.”

Planning permission for a new eight-classroom building, along with a GP area, was granted in February last year and the project was due to go to tender.

The department’s email states that 58 school building projects, including the major project for Kolbe Special School in Portlaoise, are on hold for proceeding to tender “due to capital funding pressures”.

The Department said it is working with the Department of Public Expenditure and NPD Delivery and Reform in relation to capital funding pressures, in an effort to minimise further delays.

A message circulated in a local WhatsApp group later said: “The Kolbe school in Portlaoise has been given this devastating news … The parents are devastated. The love and care these very special kids are given by the staff is incredible.”

Staff and children at the school have endured cramped, outdated conditions for many years, with poor facilities mainly based in prefabs. The school dates from 1983 and has more than 40 pupils aged four to 18, with severe to profound learning disabilities and/or autism.

The new school is to be built on the Block Road, on a site between the existing Kolbe school building and the Cuisle Centre.




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