Principal and parents plead for progress on new school
READ THE TIMELINE OF EVENTS IN THE NEW SCHOOL SAGA, WHICH BEGAN IN 1999, HERE
READ A STATMENT FROM WESTMEATH COUNTY COUNCIL HERE.
Providing learning support on a corridor rather than a classroom is unacceptable, said the principal of Curraghmore NS as he made a plea born out of frustration on behalf of his school community.
Speaking at a packed GAA hall in The Downs on Saturday evening, as a school table quiz was about to start, Michael Molloy said that what he really wants is an up to date schedule of works for the new school building on the Ardmore Road in Mullingar.
Michael Molloy, school principal, and Liz Carey, chair of Curraghmore NS Parents Association.
His remarks were echoed by many of the parents present, whose message was consistent: “We are exasperated at the lack of progress on the building,” said Moira Roe, who attended an EGM of the parents association to discuss a new school building when her daughter was in junior infants. That daughter is now a first year at Loreto College, said Moira, and there is still no new building ready for Curraghmore NS.
Martina and Ian Geoghegan said that “four resource teachers teaching in an old toilet is beyond a joke at this stage”.
“Our children and teachers deserve more. Damp under-size cabins is no environment for children to learn the important skills needed in life.”
Anna Kelly highlighted unsafe parking which is “very dangerous at collection times”; the lack of a resource room, using converted storm rooms and corridors [for teaching] and no indoor hall for sports; as well as the lack of space in the yard for playing games – and pointed out that the prefab classroom buildings need maintenance.
Bernie English said: “As a parent of one child in Curraghmore, in third class, I think it is a disgrace that the school has no hall to host Christmas plays. Children are missing out on so much compared to other schools. We need the new school ready as soon as possible.”
The principal, Mr Molloy, said in a prepared statement: “Parents are asking me, as principal, ‘When will the school be finished?’ I share the frustration of the parents and equally the anxiety of the staff.
“It is evident that conditions at our existing school are not suitable for the number of children in our care. Providing learning support on a corridor rather than a classroom is unacceptable.
“At a personal level, as a teacher and parent, I am gutted that our much-anticipated new school is making such slow progress.
“At a professional level, I am committed to working with the board of management to do everything we possibly can to make the best of our difficult situation at present and to encourage a speedy resolution of the outstanding issues.
“The monthly update reports from Westmeath Council are published on our school website as soon as they are received to ensure that all information is conveyed to the wider school community.
“The board has invited the council engineer to our board meeting later this month and the invitation has been accepted.
“Through the board, I will be urging the council, contractor, design team and department to agree a revised programme of works indicating a practical completion date for all concerned.
“Once that completion date is confirmed, then we can all together - staff, parents and children - look forward to a new beginning and a brighter future for our school.”
The parents association at the school issued the following statement: “Curraghmore NS Parents Association is extremely concerned and deeply frustrated at the visibly slow rate of building progress of our new school Holy Family NS on its Ardmore Road site.
“The progress on the new school is unacceptable as it does not even appear to be progressing in line with an already extended deadline from Sept 2018 to April 2019; for example, neither windows nor roof are currently installed.
“We have requested that Curraghmore NS Board of Management receive progress reports after the biweekly site meetings, rather than monthly as an information deficit remains currently.
“The Dept of Education and Skills approved the Curraghmore NS Board of Management to take in double classes of Junior Infants for the last two years due to new school expectation in Sept 2018. As a result, Curraghmore NS currently has 288 children in cold, unfit-for-purpose prefabs with four resource teachers teaching in converted toilets and on corridors. This is wholly unsatisfactory.
“Curraghmore NS has 202 families but there are insufficient parking spaces outside the school, which forces parents to park illegally daily when dropping/collecting after the limited spaces are filled. They have no other option open to them currently. This illegal parking results in the footpath being blocked with children then becoming vulnerable as they have to walk on a dangerous, narrow, overcrowded and busy road, placing them at significant high risk of injury.
“This is an unacceptable, unsustainable situation. There is inadequate space indoors, outdoors, and outside school gates with the education, health and safety of all 288 children being compromised despite the unfailing efforts of the principal Michael Molloy and all the staff of Curraghmore NS.
“All parents recognise that staff members are going above and beyond the call of duty daily but whilst we appreciate their efforts the situation is untenable.
Some of the pupils from Curraghmore NS on Saturday evening in The Downs with banners they designed to highlight the frustrations of the school community with the slow rate of progress on the new school building on the Ardmore Road.