Progress on new builds for four Wicklow schools

The tender process for long awaited works at four Wicklow schools set to be begin shortly, Eimear Dodd reports

Arklow CBS

Avondale Community College

St Kevin's CC, Dunlavin

Bray People

The tendering process for works at several Wicklow schools is set to get under way shortly.

CBS All Boys Secondary School in Arklow and Avondale CC, Rathdrum are part of a group of the county's schools that have been selected for the programme. Building works will also take place at St Kevin's CC in Dunlavin and Coláiste Chraobh Abhann, Kilcoole.

The National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) has announced it will help the Department of Education and Skills with an element of the school building programme. The agency confirmed it will shortly release a Prior Information Notice (PIN) to the market with the aim of building interest before the start of the tender process for the appointment of contractors. This procedure is separate to the tendering process and PINs tend to issue approximately four weeks before the tendering process commences. The works have been divided into separate project bundles. Coláiste Chraobh Abhann is part of Project Boyne while the other three schools are in Project Dargle.

In a statement, Arklow CBS said the Board of Management and staff are delighted with news on the progress of the new school campus.

'Our new building will be a state of the art facility and will have a total floor area of 6,913 metres squared. The NDFA have given us a completion date of 2023. It will consist of 19 general classrooms, six specialist rooms for Music, Information Technology, Design and Communication Graphics and Textiles and four science laboratories.'

The new campus will also include two science preparation rooms, two home economics rooms, one arts and crafts room, three engineering rooms, one room for construction and one room for technology, and a technology preparation room.

Facilities at the new school will include a library, a special education needs suite, a central activities space, two base classrooms, two withdrawal rooms, a multi-sensory room, a para education room, one practical activities room, one daily living skills room and two storage areas.

There will also be an office, one full-size PE hall with fitness gym, separate storage for PE equipment and cleaning equipment, four outside playing courts, one external store, 13 standard offices, one staffroom, a photocopy room, three rooms for meditation, general office and meetings, two project storage areas, a dining area, a catering area, a general purpose store area for dining tables, a student social area, a student locker area, main entrance and reception area, a second student entrance and 45 car parking spaces.

Peter Somers, the Principal of Arklow CBS said the school has a long tradition of delivering excellence in education and that he is really looking forward to seeing the plans for the new school.

Mr Somers added that both he and the school's staff are very excited at the prospect of continuing on with this tradition of excellent education, albeit in a very new and very modern facility.

St. Kevin's CC in Dunlavin is set to get a nine room extension which will include two science rooms and two special needs units. The school has been waiting for an extension since 2014. An extension will also be built at Avondale CC.

Coláiste Chraobh Abhann is due to receive a long-awaited extension to the school premises. Cllr Tom Fortune, a member of Coláiste Chraobh Abhann's Board of Management, said 'I'm delighted to see the project happening, but I'm not happy progress has been so slow',

Cllr Fortune added that the 'situation was urgent' as the school was designed for 560 students, but was now catering for 800.

The announcement by the NDFA was welcomed by Wicklow TD and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

Minister Donnelly said: 'It's fantastic to see progress being made for these schools who are in dire need of additional capacity.

'Schools like St Kevin's have had to wait far too long for this building work to get underway.

'I know having worked with the parents at schools like Coláiste Chraobh Abhann just how much they are in need of an extension to meet the ever growing demand for places.

'I'm delighted we are finally seeing some movement but I will be working to make sure these projects are delivered in a timely fashion because they are all desperately needed.'

Dunlavin native and former St Kevin's CC pupil, Councillor Avril Cronin said: 'This has been a long road to get to this point and something I have lobbied hard for since I was elected.

'I am delighted that we are finally seeing some progress on the school. The Principal, the staff and the board of management are working tirelessly to ensure that the students at the school are getting the best possible facilities.

Cllr Cronin highlighted the recent visit by Minister for Further Eduction Simon Harris to St Kevin's CC to meet Principal Doran and others at the school.

'I would like to acknowledge the hard work of Principal Brian Doran and his team. The past few months has been a challenging time for staff and pupils and every effort has been made to ensure that every opportunity and supports available are given to students during these unprecedented times,' Cllr Cronin added.

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