Fianna Fáil Councillor Lisa Chambers has called on the Department of Education and Skills to reconsider opening Castlebar Educate Together National School (ETNS ) this September. "I was extremely disappointed to learn that Educate Together was written to by the Department of Education and Skills suggesting that the option of location in the old Burren NS should be re-considered, or that the opening should be postponed," said Cllr Chambers
She added: "I have been trying to assist the DES in locating a suitable premises in Castlebar for the proposed Educate Together National School. The Department had originally proposed the old Burren NS but this was quickly identified by Castlebar ETNS as being totally unsuitable due to its remote location and the physical state of the building. A considerable amount of money would be required to bring the school up to modern standards for students. It was agreed by almost everyone involved in the project that to locate the new school in the old Burren NS would make the school inaccessible to many families due to it's remote location.
"Since that conclusion was reached by Castlebar ETNS and local parents, we embarked upon a process of securing another location. A number of sites have been offered to the DES and there is also the possibility of renting a premises in the short term until something more suitable is located. I cannot understand why this option is not being seriously considered given the advanced stage of the project and the fact students are already enrolled and a principal appointed.
"An expectation has been created for the parents in Castlebar and in surrounding areas that there will be an Educate Together National School opening in Castlebar this September. This educational option is long overdue and in my view it is totally unacceptable to be pulling the plug on the project at this late stage. Students have already enrolled for this year and for future years, and a principal has been appointed. Postponing the opening of the school, and in effect threatening not to open the school unless Castlebar ETNS accept the Burren NS as the only option, is the wrong way for the Department to be approaching this situation."
Cllr Chambers concluded: "This is going to have a devastating effect on the children already enrolled and the staff that were expecting to start work in September. Temporary accommodation options are available in the town for this September and I sincerely hope the Department reconsider its position. There is still time to resolve this issue and open the school in time for the junior infant cycle in four weeks."