Four of Athlone’s schools are among 11 in Westmeath who will benefit from the Summer Works Programme funding announced this week by the Minister for Education.
For the students of Cornamaddy National School, it will see an end to soaking wet shoes and socks when vital work is done to fix a flooding problem that comes right to the front gate.
Principal Aidan Barry was delighted to hear that their application for funding had been successful.
Up to 10 times a year, following a heavy downpour, the yard is flooded and the water, according to Mr Barry is so deep that there are serious concerns about what could happen if an infant was to fall in it.
“It’s like walking into a lake,” he said, adding that after a night’s very heavy rain, students who have to cross the flooded yard to get to their classrooms end up with wet socks and shoes.
But he was extremely concerned about the danger should a very small child fall in the flooded yard.
A local consultant investigated the flooding and prepared a report which formed part of the school’s application for funding under the annual Summer Works Scheme, for essential work that is carried out in schools during the summer holidays, causing no disruption to teaching and learning.
“We’re welcoming the funding big time,” Mr Barry told the Athlone Advertiser, adding that it would be too expensive a project for the Board of Management to undertake.
If the school hadn’t been successful under the Summer Works Scheme, Mr Barry said they would have to apply again to the Department for emergency works funding, so concerned are staff and parents about the flooding problem.
The Summer Works Programme provides additional funding for essential projects on top of the small annual works grant provided to schools to cover maintenance such as breakages and painting.
In Athlone, the Dean Kelly National School, Scoil Chiaran, and St Paul’s National School were also successful in their funding application.
Following an announcement by Education Minister Ruairí Quinn that €36million will be spent on 386 school projects, the Department of Education will not say how much money will be spent in each individual school or even in the county.
Other schools to benefit are Milltownpass National School; St Patrick’s NS, Killucan; Mercy Secondary School in Kilbeggan; as well as Wilson’s Hospital; St Joseph’s, Rochfortbridge; and national schools in Raharney and Multyfarnham.
This first round of funding relates to small and medium scale works relating to gas, electrical, and mechanical issues, and a second round of funding is to be announced in the coming weeks for other kinds of improvements.