The process of the amalgamation of our three inner town Parish Primary Schools - Sacred Heart, Scoil Mhuire and St. Paul’s - continues to advance and hopefully will begin construction later this year. They will amalgamate into two 24 classroom schools at Aughnaharna. One school will be a Junior Primary, up to and incl.2nd class and the Senior Primary from 3rd to 6th. Having gone through an eTender process, currently a list of suitably qualified construction firms is being compiled by the Architects, MCOH, Portlaoise, with a view to them being invited to tender for the building contract in the very near future. All going well we hope they will be on site in September. The construction phase is likely to be 18months or thereabouts.
The lands at Aughnaharna have been purchased by the Parish at a cost of €1.25ml. There is no grant or payback from the Department for this purchase – it is a Parish contribution to the provision of these schools. The Presentation Sisters have kindly provided 50% of the purchase price – €625,000. Portlaoise is indebted to the Presentation Sisters for over 150 years of dedication to education in the Parish and even now, with no Sister on the staff of our Schools, for this very generous financial contribution to the next phase of Primary education in our town.
The 10 acres will provide a good site for our Schools - the plans include a Sports Hall shared between the two schools, which will be called Nagle Hall (after Nano Nagle, founder of the Presentation Sisters) and a playing pitch sufficient in size to accommodate a juvenile GAA pitch. The Department of Education do not fund playing pitches in Primary Schools but the Parish will provide the necessary to develop a pitch on the site.
Scoil Bhríde Knockmay
Planning permission has been granted and the plans are at an advanced stage for a new 32 classroom school to replace the existing building and the prefabs at Scoil Bhríde. We are just waiting on the ‘go-ahead’ from the Department of Education to advance this project to reality. It is on the Departments present schedule to advance to construction in 2014/2015. We are hopeful that the green light will be given shortly. With 763 pupils, Scoil Bhríde is the biggest Primary School in Co. Laois. It underwent a ‘whole school evaluation’ (a major Department inspection) in 2012 and emerged with flying colours. The details of that examination can be accessed on the Department of Education website. The extra land required to accommodate the new school is being provided by the Parish from its lands beside the present school.