It’s emerged that the State is spending nearly €1.25 million a year on the rental of prefabs being used as temporary classroom accommodation in Waterford alone.
Minister for Education and Science Batt O’Keeffe outlined the specific details relating to prefab school buildings in the city county this week. At present “there are 19 schools renting a total of 96 prefab units. The average annual rental cost per prefab unit in Waterford is €12,960,” he confirmed.
Wexford Fine Gael TD Michael D’Arcy had asked how many schools in the Waterford constituency we’re talking about, the number of classroom units, and the average cost within each.
The Minister said “demand for additional accommodation in schools has risen significantly over the last number of years, with the appointment of 6,000 extra teachers in the primary sector alone since 2002.
“It will continue to be necessary for prefabricated accommodation to be provided because competing priorities mean that it will not always be possible to have a permanent accommodation solution in place in a short timeframe,” he conceded.
He said the cost per prefab unit varies depending on the size, type and age.
Deputy D’Arcy’s party colleague, Waterford TD John Deasy, has blasted the practice of wasting “dead money” on school prefabs – not least at a time when the construction industry is in freefall.
There are currently 17 units rented at Holy Cross NS, Tramore, costing €220,320 per annum based on the average rent quoted by the Minister. It was announced last week that a long-awaited new school is to be finally built on the Ballycarnane site this year.
However, most of the other 18 schools on the prefabs list are still a long way from being replaced or having new extensions built.