Latest Laois News:Local TD welcomes Education Minister’s commitment to Kolbe School
Kolbe school raised with the Minister in the Dáil
Deputy Brian Stanley said:
“I will raise the issue of the Kolbe centre in Portlaoise, County Laois which is in urgent need of a new building. The Minister might outline the funding progress on that.
I cannot emphasise enough the need for a new building. At present, this special school, which deals with children with very complex needs and serious levels of disability, has only one permanent bricks-and-mortar classroom. Everything else is prefabricated and some of it is in a very poor condition, not totally weatherproof, it is not soundproof and some of the prefabs are just too small, very difficult to heat and, with the current situation regarding energy costs, that causes difficulties. I emphasise there is a major need for this school. The site is secured on Block Road. It is an excellent site and the school authorities have been working hard on that with the Department. I acknowledge the co-operation of the Minister’s officials on that matter.’’
“The school has an excellent and very committed staff and the parents are also very committed. It is very important that we try to move this project on. Planning permission was granted a couple of weeks ago by the county council. That is something I have raised a number of times with the council because of the urgency of the project. It is now important that we get it to the next stage, which the Minister will appreciate. Will she give an indication of the timelines and the funding involved?’’
“The Minister will understand, coming from the education sector and given her job now, the different stages of planning, design and delivery of a school. There are a number of hurdles within the process and a number of stages that must be gone through. I ask that her officials give this priority. It is really important that we get it done and that the funding provided is sufficient to cater for any building inflation there may be because, unfortunately, costs are not going down. It is important that there is sufficient funding for it.
I ask the Minister to work hard on this so that the children and the staff do not spend another winter in the accommodation that they are in, if that is possible. We need to try to move on with it.’’
“The project is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning, stage 2b detailed design, which includes the application for all statutory consents, including planning permission, disability access certification and fire safety certification, in addition to the preparation of tender documentation.
To expedite the project, the pre-qualification of contractors is being carried out in parallel with the completion and review of stage 2b, and the design team was authorised to commence the process just last week.
Upon receipt, review and approval of the stage 2b submission, completion of the pre-qualification of contractors, and once the design team are satisfied that their tender documents are in order and comply with all departmental and building regulation requirements, the project for Kolbe Special School can be progressed to tender and award of contract. A tender stage normally takes between six to eight months subject to no issues arising. I will articulate clearly that the Department is fully committed to getting this project delivered as quickly as possible and advanced as a priority.’’
“I acknowledge the Deputy’s commitment to the delivery of this project. He referenced planning permission, and fire safety certification is pending from the local authority, whose role we acknowledge. The design team is currently working on the tender documents. Equally, to expedite the project, pre-qualification for contractors, which is important, is being carried out in parallel with the completion and review of stage 2b. Again, as the Deputy acknowledged, the design team has been authorised to commence the process last week. The manner in which we are as much as possible taking a twin-track approach underlines our commitment.’’