The principal of Stonepark NS has said the school was “bumped off” the list of proposed new schools after it did not feature in the Department of Education’s five-year building programme, announced last week.
Just last month, Stonepark were given the go ahead for a new school by the Department of Education and Skills.
“We’re very aggrieved; we’re totally and utterly disappointed. This news has left it up in the air. We don’t know where we are set to go from here now,” a dejected principal Micheal O'Sullivan told the Leader.
“We had been told last month that it was a two-year beginning-to-end process. We were hoping to start construction this time next year. The design team has been tendered and we’re supposed to go meet on Tuesday to select them but I don’t know where to go now.”
Mr O'Sullivan only learned of the setback from an article in this paper last week, in which it was revealed the Department had omitted Stonepark from the list, and had not included them in any additional plans.
“We’ve been bumped off somewhere. I need to be clear on this, I’m not saying some other Longford school bumped us off, this is a national thing, but someone has.”
“The Department are trying to say now that what they told us less than a month ago was correct then but that has changed now, but what could have changed since then? I think we’ve been bumped off the list, and I certainly think it’s political.
“What really surprises me is that the department initiated the call to us, they encouraged us along, said we had all the numbers. We acquired a site for them, all was ready to go. And then they didn’t even contact us to tell us things had changed.”
The reasoning behind the government’s five-year building plan is to cater for the increased demand of pupils brought about by the baby boom of the last half decade. Numbers in primary schools are expected to increase by 45,000 by 2018.
“This is not an emotional thing, this is purely demographic. The numbers fit, we cannot cater for the numbers of pupils that are requesting to come into this school,” Mr O’ Sullivan said.
The Stonepark principal expressed his happiness that other schools in Longford had been given the green light, but was not sure where this leaves his school.
“This sets back the whole community back, not just the school. The Stonepark enhancement plan has made major progress in recent times, what with the Grattans’ development and with the Council deciding to put in footpaths and lighting,” Mr O’Sullivan said.