Local TD Denis Naughten will question the Minister for Education in the Dáil seeking an explanation as to why Cloonakilla NS has been dropped from the school building programme for the next five years.
“Cloonakilla is located on the edge of Monksland/Bealnamullia in one of the most rapidly growing areas in the midlands, an area which has seen every other school in the locality upgraded and still full to capacity yet now this vital project has been long fingered again,” stated Denis Naughten.
“The school has secured an adjoining site for expansion of the school and is under growing pressure due to demand, with children being catered for in prefabs. Both it and Coosan NS on the Westmeath side were seen as local priorities, but while the Coosan project made it to the list Cloonakilla has been dropped.
“This is extremely demoralising for the very active staff, management team and parents association at the school.”
An assessment by the Department of Education just over four years ago estimated that an extra 150 school places were needed in the Monkaland/Bealnamullia/Kiltoom area over and above meeting the demand which existed then within the catchment.
“During the term of the last Government parents were told that the Cloonakilla NS project was not a priority within the Department of Education because it was not considered to be in a rapidly developing area, even though the Bealnamullia/Monksland area was growing at 14 times the rate of Athlone Town. While Athlone had been identified as a rapidly developing area Bealnamullia had not,” added Denis Naughten.
“On foot of representations and the Trojan work by the principal and board of management of the school, we all believed that this misrepresentation had been corrected within the Department of Education.
“So the question must now be asked why Cloonakilla NS and its vital extension have fallen off the building list for the next five years? This community does not deserve to lose out again.
“I’m issuing an invite to the Minister for Education to come and see the area for himself and to view the excellent standard of education being provided as well as the challenges faced by the pupils and staff on such a confined site. I am also calling on the Minister to ensure that the school and its pupils get the priority they deserve,” concluded Denis Naughten.