Ballinasloe to get new 11-teacher school but Coosan has to wait

A new €4.8 million primary school was approved for Ballinasloe this week, while one approved for Coosan in 2007 is only now ready to apply for permission.

Scoil an Chroí Naofa in Society Street, Ballinasloe was given the green light by the planners to demolish one of its existing premises and replace it with a new, two-storey school, and specialised autism unit.

Coosan was given approval for a 16-classroom school on the present site in January 2007 to replace the five-room, eight-prefab institution in operation at the moment, but the then €10 million project was put on hold.

According to local TD Nicky McFadden, who raised the issue with the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn in Dáil Éireann this week, a Department-approved architect was appointed in 2009 under new guidelines, and approval was re-activated in September 2010.

After a design team was contracted in January: “the school is now ready to seek planning permission,” said Deputy McFadden.

In a fortuitous twist of fate, the build is now costed at under €7.5 million.

The school in Ballinasloe will have 11 classrooms, nine specialist resource classrooms, a library, staff room, offices, toilets, stores, and general purpose hall, while the autism unit will consist of two specialist classrooms and education suites. Principal Teresa Farrell anticipates accepting her first pupils by September 2013.

Scoil an Chroí Naofa has existed in its present, split-campus state since the old boys school of St Grellans NS and the girls Sisters’ of Mercy convent amalgamated in the mid-90s.

Its board of management has been seeking this for almost eight years now, and though funding has yet to be formally approved, the new school is on the Department of Education’s building programme for next year. Knowing this, the board was encouraged to make the planning application before the funding was green-lighted.

The proposed development will be on the convent side of Society Street, beside Supermacs, and will also include minor alterations to an existing protected building from the 1930s, four new prefabs, new parking areas as well as upgrading of playgrounds and playing courts.

Coosan NS was originally built on its present site in 1954 as a two-teacher country school, and was extended by five rooms in 1987.

Enrolment has doubled in the last 10 years, and of the 351 pupils presently attending Coosan, just under two thirds of them (226 ) are taught in the prefabs.

“Currently three of these prefabs are being rented, at an annual cost to the Department of Education and Science in excess of €32,000. Two were purchased by the board of management, and six are the property of the Department. The school no longer has any form of indoor activities area,” said Deputy McFadden.

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