AKC News // 2004 School Building Programme

2004 Primary and Post-Primary School Building Programme

Minister's Foreword

Last year, for the first time, I published the complete School Building Programme showing all projects in architectural planning and at construction. The programme was updated in May to show how the contingency fund was being spent. By publishing the programme, I know that all the partners in education - students, parents, teachers and management bodies - received as much information as was possible to give concerning the status of individual projects.

This year, the programme format has been changed to make it more user-friendly. It is now possible to access the up-to-date position on a project in the programme by county rather than having to scroll through a number of different sections.

The programme that I am announcing for 2004 is a further major step in progressing the Government's consistent commitment since 1997 to deal with school accommodation needs. It details in excess of 170 significant school building projects that are being authorised to proceed to tender and construction in 2004. I am particularly pleased that as 2004 is the European Year of Education through Sport (EYES) a number of PE Halls have been included as part of the very challenging programme of capital works. Some of these PE Halls are approved on the basis that they are part of a joint programme to develop community sports facilities in drugs task force areas. Others are being approved on the basis that local agreements/management structures will be put in place to allow maximum community use outside school hours.

The experience of the two pilot initiatives to date - the small and rural school and the permanent accommodation initiatives - has been very promising and I have decided to extend the schemes to include more schools for 2004. Details of the selected schools are included in Sections 1 and 2 of the programme.

I am absolutely convinced that devolving funding, responsibility and authority to schools for smaller scale capital building projects is the way forward. As a further initiative in that direction, last week I put in place a new devolved Summer Works Scheme. This caters for necessary small-scale works that can be planned and delivered generally during the summer holidays. The 2004 programme will be updated in early Spring to provide details of schools with approved projects under this scheme. At the same time, I will publish details of temporary accommodation projects proceeding in 2004. This initiative sets clear dates for both the application and decision processes. Too often in the past a project could not progress during the Summer because of difficulties caused by late notification. The new approach will bring greater clarity and certainty to the operation of the smaller scale works programme and will help schools in their preparations for the execution of the works during the Summer.

A key part of my strategy going forward will be grounded on the budget day announcement of multi annual allocations for capital investment in education projects covering the years 2004 to 2008. All projects that are not going to construction as part of the 2004 School Building Programme are being reviewed with a view to including them as part of a multi-annual building programme from 2005 onwards. I expect to be in a position to make a further announcement on this matter during 2004.

Finally, on Budget day my colleague the Minister for Finance allocated a further €30 million to the 2004 School Building Programme. The programme that I am announcing today does not take account of that allocation and I will update the programme early next year to provide details of how this funding will be spent.

Noel Dempsey, T.D.
Minister for Education and Science
December 2003

Click here for full 2004 School Building Programme

Date : 18-12-2003