Children In A Midlands Special School Have Been 'Forgotten About'

A midlands mum has spoken out after plans for a Laois special school were delayed.

Children waiting for a new special school in the midlands have been forgotten about.

Ballyfin mum Lyndsey Behan is making the comments, following a delay to plans for the new Kolbe Special School in Portlaoise.

Her son Jason, has been in the current Kolbe building for eight years, and Ms. Behan says there's been issues with mould and electricity during his time there.

She says her son, and the rest of the children at Kolbe, deserve to be a priority:

The Department of Education has issued a statement to Midlands 103 on delays to plans for the Kolbe Special School:

The Department of Education has a strong track record of delivery of school building projects and this was achieved again in 2022 notwithstanding the wider construction sector environment of high inflation, labour shortages and supply chain issues.

There were circa. 180 school building projects delivered during 2022 which included accelerated delivery of modular accommodation to support provision for 900 pupils with special education needs. In addition over 1,000 small scale repair/improvement projects in schools throughout the country under the Summer Works Scheme and Emergency Works Scheme and 16 deep energy retrofit projects, as part of the climate action agenda through the Energy Pathfinder Programme, were completed. It is also important to note that the Department of Education was very successful in accommodating circa. 15,000 pupils from Ukraine in our schools.  The Department’s capital outturn for 2022 was €1.12 billion which included a €300m supplementary for capital funding.

Key priorities for the Department of Education are supporting the operation of the school system and adding necessary capacity to cater for special education needs provision, mainstream demographics and catering for students from Ukraine and other countries under the International Protection system.

Circa. 300 school building projects continued in construction at the start of 2023, most of which will be completed in 2023/early 2024, this includes over 40 new school buildings. All of these projects are helping to support the operation of our schools, are delivered to the highest standards and are very energy efficient.

As part of its planning ahead for 2023, the Department is assessing its work programme and priorities in the context of its available funding.  It is also engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform in relation to capital funding pressures in order to continue to be able to adequately support the operation of the school system with rollout of school building projects to tender and construction in 2023 and minimise project delays to the greatest extent possible.

There are currently 58 school building projects that are on hold in the Department for proceeding to tender and construction due to capital funding pressures.  

The Department of Education is very conscious of the need to support the operation of the school system and intends to provide clarity for individual schools about their school building projects as quickly as possible.

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