Tramore’s new €80m amalgamated Community School received the green light this week.

To be constructed on a green field site at Ballycarnane, behind the town’s new Tesco store, it will cater for 1,000 pupils from the existing Stella Maris Secondary and the CBS Secondary schools.

On Tuesday, Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keeffe TD, confirmed that the new Community School would be one of seven projects included in the third bundle of the department’s Schools Building Project, a public-private partnership (PPP) programme. Minister O’Keeffe expressed optimism that construction work would commence as quickly as possible, once all necessary steps had been taken in the PPP process.

The Tramore site has already been purchased by the Office of Public Works under the combined trusteeship of the Sisters ofCharity and the Christian Brothers. Stakeholder meetings will be held with Stella Maris and the CBS early next year to detail the PPP procurement mechanism and their role in the project. Under the PPP programme, projects are procured in bundles and offered to the market on a design, build, finance and operate basis. One of the main advantages PPP schools have is that the principal is not involved on a daily basis in maintenance and caretaking issues. Instead, these become the responsibility of the PPP operator for the period of the contract. Subject to the completion of the planning process, the current indicative timeframe for Tramore’s Community School to become operational is late 2012.

At a recent meeting with both Principals in the Minister’s office in Leinster House, the Minister of Education & Science described the amalgamation of both schools as a ‘win-win situation’, acknowledging the enthusiasm of parents, staff and students for the new school. In a joint statement released on Tuesday, principals of both schools – Pat McEvoy (CBS Tramore) and Robert McCarthy (Stella Maris) – said they looked forward to the amalgamation and pledged to work unceasingly towards its fulfilment. “The school will offer a dynamic opportunity to provide a vast range of subject choice and educational resources which would not have been possible in two separate schools”, the statement said.

Currently both schools share resources and have pupils attending courses in their two premises, at senior cycle level. The management of both schools intend to continue this sharing of resources in the immediate future.

The announcement has been welcomed by Arts, Sport and Tourism Minister Martin Cullen and TD Brendan Kenneally, who agreed the new building would greatly improve local school infrastructure and meet the new, developing and emerging needs of education provision in the are