A new Presentation secondary school in the city is one of four Waterford projects included in the latest capital programme announced by the Department of Education on Tuesday – but for thousands more pupils, teachers and parents the wait goes on.

Minister Batt O’Keeffe has advanced 52 developments as part of a €579m package comprising 20 new schools and 32 extensions. Of these, 25 have planning permission and so can go to tender or construction “shortly”. The others have been authorised to prepare documents with a view to going to tender and construction later this year or early in 2011. However, no Waterford schools are included on this list.

As well as these, 22 major school ‘builds’ previously approved to enter into architectural planning will be permitted to appoint design teams in the fourth quarter of this year. These include three local national schools seeking new extensions/refurbishments, namely: St Joseph’s Special School in Parnell Street, St Martin’s Special School in Ballytruckle and Christ Church NS in Lower Newtown.

With a further 29 ‘high-priority’ projects to begin the typically tortuous design process, and on-site work underway on 28 major projects already, the Minister insists the Government’s sustained capital investment “is transforming schools across the country.” He added that this week’s announcement, promoted by “record birth rates in recent years”, will create more than 23,500 school places – 14,500 at primary level.

The Presentation’s female students will be among the 1,900 secondary school-goers to get new permanent accommodation. The Minister expects the new list of works will create more than 5,300 jobs in the construction sector (averaging nine per million euros spent), adding that his officials “are using technology to map areas where schools will be needed and we are responding to these demographic trends.”

See The Munster Express newspaper for full story.