SDLP Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon has again written to Education Minister John O’Dowd about the urgent need for capital investment at St Mary’s Primary School, Granemore.
He explained: “Over the last number of years I have been lobbying the Education Minister John O’Dowd and indeed his predecessor Caitríona Ruane on the need for significant capital investment in Saint Mary’s Primary School, Granemore and on each occasion the Ministers and the Department have used the excuse that there currently was an ‘area planning process ongoing by CCMS in the Parish and therefore it would be inappropriate to consider the school for major capital works until that process was complete’.
“In the last few months CCMS have advised me that St Mary’s Granemore is to remain as a stand alone school and that they have been making the case for significant investment in Granemore, both through minor works applications as well as considering a bid for the Schools Enhancement Programme.
“This is a welcome development but we now need to see a greater sense of urgency brought to this case. I know that the Principal and the school’s Board of Governors have been pressing hard for investment and they are frustrated by the lack of progress to date.
“‘I have again written to the Education Minister and asked for his personal intervention. The school has recently received a glowing report from the Education Inspectorate and even they have hi-lighted the substandard facilities the teachers have to work in and the children have to learn in. This is a fantastic school and its numbers are testament to the quality of education on offer, and yet the Department and on occasions CCMS have been dragging their feet in relation to the much needed capital investment in Granemore.
“The vast majority of pupils are taught in mobile classrooms, one 0f which was there when I was at the school. Children have to cross the schoolyard to get to the bathroom or to the dining room and there is no provision for indoor sports at the school. Try and negotiate the Granemore Road either in the morning as the school day begins or in the afternoon and see how the lack of parking is causing a major problem for motorists and parents alike.
“I am frustrated by the lack of progress and the lack of a sense of urgency by the Department and I have again written to both the Minister and the Chief Executive of CCMS seeking real progress. This school needs a modern, fit for purpose school building and the local community will not rest until they see that building become a reality.”
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