Wednesday 25th October in the Seanad Senator James Reilly brought up the urgent issue of the need for a new permanent national school at St Mologa's Balbriggan. Senator Reilly outlined that St Mologa's NS in Balbriggan over half the children and teachers are forced to work and study in pre-fab buildings. This has been ongoing for 17 years as a "TEMPORARY MEASURE? " Senator Reilly travelled to Balbriggan along with local Cllr Tom OLeary to visit the teachers representative Jeanine Leonard and to meet the Principal Pauline Costello to discuss the matter further.
Senator Reilly and Cllr Oleary hadna very useful meeting with the principal and Jeanine
Leonard where the urgency of the need for accommodation was outlined clearly. Currently there are 240 students in these pre-fabs, They are forced in all weather conditions to leave their classrooms to attend learning support classes, PE classes, choir rehearsals etc. The has Senator is again raised the issue in the commencement debate Thursday 26th of October with the Minister for Education and is calling on the minister to give a clear timeline as to when this issue will be resolved.
View Senator James Reillys contribution below.
St Mologa's Balbriggan Facts & Figures
The prefabricated classrooms were erected as a temporary measure to facilitate the growth in the school population since 2000. 17 years on this temporary solution to an accommodation crisis seems like an inadequate, unacceptable answer to our school’s accommodation needs in the 21st century. We are listed on the DES major building works for 2019-21 but we have not received any correspondence in relation to the planned build or indication of a building schedule.
2017/18 Current enrolment 462: We require one additional classroom and three Special Education rooms now.
2018/19 Projected Enrolment 471 (appointment of 18th classroom teacher) We will require two additional mainstream classrooms for September 2018 and three Special Ed Rooms. (This includes 2017/18 requirements)
2019/20 Projected Enrolment 479, which will sanction an additional teacher from September 2020 –*19th mainstream class teacher and a third classroom required.
*If the pupil teacher ratio is further reduced then we could require additional classroom teachers
240 pupils or 52% of the pupils enrolled attend school in prefab classrooms.
56% of teaching staff work in the prefab classrooms
Pupils and teachers accommodated in the prefabs are in effect isolated from the main building. This has implications for pupils, teachers and parents:
Pupils must leave their classrooms and walk in all weathers to/from learning support classes, to the offices, to PE hall for PE lessons/games, for choir rehearsals, concerts/plays, visiting speakers etc. There are obvious health and safety concerns for pupils in this.
All office services and telephone contact in the school is from the office.
Interactive whiteboards used in the main building are unsuitable for installation in the pre-fabs.
Some of the classrooms are too small to cope with our pupil/teacher ratio. Three classes in prefabs have 30 pupils.
The classrooms are unsuited to some active learning activities as movement of a number of pupils causes the floors to shake and sound travels easily from room to room. Team teaching/station teaching are difficult to manage due to classroom size.
Members of the public can access any of the prefab classrooms at any time, which is a health and safety concern for our school.
Due to the loading on the electrical board we are unable to increase the amount of electrical heating to the prefabs.
The prefabs do not retain heat due to poor insulation so in severely cold weather are liable to be colder than the recommended temperature. The water tanks which are stored on the roof of the prefabs cannot be adequately insulated so has to prevent freezing. We have increased the insulation on all pipes coming from these tanks.
Heating costs for the prefabs are extremely high due to our reliance on electricity and the inadequate heating from the storage heaters/convector heaters.
During heavy downpours, windows leak and water pours onto electrical sockets/heaters during school time. Remedial works have taken place on these windows but windows in the prefabs are liable to leak at any time.
Floors have had to be replaced due to weak areas in the flooring, inside exterior doors.
Additional prefab classrooms will require the school to install a new electricity board and move to an additional phase of electricity. We pay 26c per day standing charge for electricity, if we increase to maximum demand we will have a standing charge cost of €6 per day (€2190 per year) before we pay the additional electricity costs to heat and light new classrooms. Electricity costs are currently approx. €13,000 per year. Gas Heating for the main building costs €5340.
Rotting boards, cracks and holes on exterior of prefab classrooms
Hole in the floor at entrance
Leak above windows
Hole in ceiling due to leaks