Thursday, 14 May 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
173. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will accelerate the school building programme with a view to ensuring the early provision of adequate accommodation and facilities in permanent buildings for all children attending primary and second level schools here and keeping in mind the need to follow best international practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19511/09]
Minister for Education and Science (Deputy Batt O’Keeffe): In 2009, almost €614 million will be spent on school infrastructure. It represents a significant investment in the school building and modernisation programme. As the Deputy will appreciate, the climate within which the 2009 Budget has been framed is very different to that of recent years. The Government has been faced with very difficult choices across all areas of public spending. This level of funding for the building programme, at a time of great pressure on public finances, is a sign of the very real commitment of this Government to investing in school infrastructure and will permit the continuation of progress in the overall improvement of school accommodation. The progression of all large scale building projects from initial design stage through to construction phase is considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department’s Multi-Annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. The particular emphasis in 2009 is on providing sufficient school places in developing areas, while also showing the Government’s commitment to delivering improvements in the quality of existing primary and post-primary school accommodation throughout the country. In this context I recently announced an €80 million fund to provide a major Summer Works Scheme this year. The €80 million fund will finance over 1,180 small to medium-scale capital projects in 967 schools over the quiet summer months so that disruption is minimised. The capacity of schools to take responsibility for delivering small and medium-scale projects is a key component of the Summer Works Scheme and I’m pleased to be in a position to make funding available once again. The Summer Works Scheme covers school projects such as gas, electrical and mechanical works, roof replacements and repairs, window replacement, toilet upgrades, structural improvements and access works. The fund will dramatically improve structural, mechanical, electrical, gas and other works in schools right across the country.
174. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the extent to which he will prioritise the replacement of temporary or prefabricated school buildings in the course of 2009; the name, number and location of these schools which he will prioritise in 2009 for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19512/09]
178. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will address the ongoing issue of temporary classroom accommodation in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19516/09]
It is the policy of my Department to provide a permanent accommodation solution in so far as possible to meet accommodation demands presenting in schools. However, the time span involved in architectural design and obtaining planning permission processes effectively means that, in all instances, it may not be possible to provide a permanent accommodation solution as soon as it is required and in these cases temporary accommodation is provided as an interim measure. In 2009 almost €614 million will be spent on school infrastructure. It represents a significant investment in the school building and modernisation at a time of great pressure on public finances and is a sign of the very real commitment of this Government to investing in school infrastructure and will permit the continuation of progress in the overall improvement of school accommodation. In July of 2008, I introduced a new scheme which allows those schools with an urgent and pressing need for additional accommodation which is likely to last for more than 3 years, and who are being given approval for grant aid, to avail of the option of using their grants either to purchase prefabs or to construct permanent classrooms for the same amount. I am also introducing a new pilot project aimed at replacing rented prefabs with permanent modular buildings. This project will be targeted at schools that have older rented prefabs and need long-term additional accommodation.
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