There were mixed emotions in Stonepark NS last Thursday as the joy of a job well done was tainted by disappointing news.
Celebrating the opening of the new school gate, which has been in the works for the past five years, Principal Meriel McCord revealed that an extension to the school, promised back in 2006, was once again postponed.
“January 2006 was a very exciting time in Stonepark NS, Mary Hanafin announced a major extension to our school,” Ms McCord told the crowd gathered, explaining that they were about to go to tender on the project in 2007 when it was postponed due to the downturn.
Ms McCord then went on to reveal that she had received correspondence from the Department of Education, which stated that Stonepark was not included in the five year construction programme and so, despite being ready to go to tender, the extension will not go ahead.
It is news which has been met with great anger and disappointment.
“At present, 80% of pupils and staff are in prefabs,” Ms McCord pointed out. “These prefabs are too cold in the morning and too hot in the afternoon.
“They are in need of constant repair and there is not adequate space in them,” she continued, urging all gathered to campaign on behalf of the school in the lead up to the general election.
Angry about the decision, Pat Tiernan, Vice Chair of the Parent’s Association was adamant that the group would do everything in their power to make their voices heard, a sentiment which was echoed by the Chairperson, Mary Conlon.
A statement from the Department of Education confirmed that planning for refurbishment and the construction of an extension consisting of 8 classrooms, General Purpose facilities and other ancillary accommodation are at an advanced stage, but that the school wasn’t included in the plan as the area “has not been identified as an area of demographic growth.
“However, school building projects, including the project for Stonepark National School are being progressed to the final planning stages and are available to be considered in the context of the new 6 Year Construction Plan that the Minister intends to announce in the coming weeks.”
Though they felt let down by the delay, the school is eager to highlight the positive steps that have been taken, such as the creation of the school gate.
“It’s a small solution to a big problem,” Pat pointed out, adding that students once had to walk onto a busy road to get to school.
Complimenting her staff, the Board of Management and the Parent’s Association for their hard work, Ms McCord also added thanks to Grattan Óg, Longford Co Council and Kenagh Craft Metal for their input into the project.
Rather than dwelling on their circumstances, the school will continue to put their best foot forward and are now organising a fundraising Fashion and Variety show for the Longford Arms Hotel on November 13.