Tuesday 17 September 2019

Selskar College looking for new school go ahead

OUT OF SPACE: Enrolment at Selskar College has increased 43 per cent in five years.
OUT OF SPACE: Enrolment at Selskar College has increased 43 per cent in five years.

By David tucker

SELSKAR College has applied to the Department of Education for the go-ahead for a new state-of-the art secondary school on a greenfield site in Wexford town.

'We have an application in for a new school on a greenfield site. That's gone into the Department and we wait with bated breath to hear what they going to say,' Principal Eimear Ryan told this newspaper.

'What facilities we have here are well managed and good, it's just that we have no green space. Our enrollment has gone up by 43 per cent in the past five or six years and we will have an increase in enrollment in the next four or five years which is going to create a need for more space, notwithstanding the pressure that's there already,' said Ms Ryan.

The college currently has 510 students including PLCs and 60 staff on a four-acre site and in the principal's words, 'It's fairly sardine-like at times'.

If the college gets the green light, it will be the third mayor school development in Wexford, with work on the new CBS Secondary and the Loreto already under way.

Confirmation of the school's 'standalone' plans comes on the heels of discussions involving local politicians, the county manager and a land owner with regards to building a new secondary school in Wexford town.

According to former mayor Cllr George Lawlor, one possibility is the merger of Selskar College and Educate Together as a new community school based in Killeens, on the same overall site that the new Loreto Secondary School is being built, part of a large greenfield area once designated for housing.

Asked about this possibility, Ms Ryan said such a move hadn't been discussed and it was not for her to comment on any such development, which would be a decision for the CEO of Waterford and Wexford ETB.

County council chief executive Tom Enright said, the plans for a new secondary school are not developed yet 'as we are at the site selection stage and no lands have yet been purchased'.

Mr Enright said the merger of local schools is a matter for the schools themselves and the Department of Education.

'However, from a spatial planning perspective, the council would favour schools being developed in a campus arrangement where facilities could be shared between schools and with the local community,' said Mr Enright.

Cllr Lawlor said there were two issues to be worked out - a shortage of school places for the September, 2017, school year a long term one of the requirement for a new secondary school.

'My own preference would be be to see Selskar College and Educate Together joined to create a new community school,' he said, 'it hasn't officially been put to the two sides yet, but there is precedent for it in Dublin and it would be very helpful in solving the school place issue in Wexford.'

'We need to get them together and see what the options are.. I think the ETB would be open for it and we need to get the ball rolling,' said the former mayor.

While the council is saying that site selection is still up in the air, Cllr Lawlor said he believed that Killeens was the best option and that talks with the landowner had already taken place with a view to locating any new secondary school close to the site where the new Loreto School is being built.

The Loreto is offering 30 extra places which will go a long way to resolving the short term issue for girls.

'We are still trying to resolve the issue boys and we won't know how many places we need until people firm up their plans.

'There are people with offers in for three schools and we won't know where we are until that is put to bed,' he said.

'I am calling on parents once and for all to decide where their child is going to school.. the upset this uncertainty is causing in Wexford is totally uneccesary.'

Minister Paul Kehoe said his office was putting pressure on the Department of Education for a swift decision on a new secondary school and had forwarded the views of various parents' groups on alternative proposals for new secondary school developments.

'We hope to hear something soon,' said a spokesperson for the minister's office.

Wexford People

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