John Kearney, CEO, Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board, on site at Breifne College during the last major construction project at the Cavan Town school.

Almost €70m to be invested in schools

Almost €70 million euro will be spent by Cavan-Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB) in delivering additional infrastructure at schools and learning facilities across the region.

In total, €47.5 million will be spent in ETB secondary schools, with €18 million to be spent where the ETB is assisting in the delivery of primary schools projects.

The remaining €4 million has been earmarked for investment in Further Education and Training (FET) across the two counties.

Much of the investment targetting ETB-run secondary schools will be to cater for students with special education needs, board members were informed at their virtual meeting last Monday afternoon, March 29.

A multi-storey extension at Virginia College, Chief Executive John Kearney says, will prove “very important” for the future of the east Cavan school. Nine classrooms will be added, alongside a Special Education Needs (SEN) unit and two Special Education Teacher (SET) rooms.

Three science labs with preparation areas will also be built. A design team has been appointed for the project with design drafts “ongoing”.

Major extensions are also planned at Breifne College, Cavan Town and Coláiste Dún an Rí in Kingscourt where SEN facilities are already in existence.

The plans are to cater for predicted increases in overall pupil enrolments at both schools in the coming years, with “extensive preparations” taking place for Coláiste Dún an Rí where the hope is to build 14 additional large classrooms (30 pupil capacity) and seven smaller rooms (20 pupils). The proposed extension will also incorporate an additional art room, two engineering rooms, two construction rooms, a DCG room, an additional home economics room and pastoral care and guidance facilities.

“That is what is being progressed there,” said Mr Kearney of the works expected to take place over the next three years.

Like Virginia, temporary accommodation is being explored to decamp students while construction works take place.

At Breifne College, Mr Kearney states the ETB is looking to eventually provide 26 large classrooms and 10 small classrooms, as well as a range of specialist rooms, ranging from from music to multi-media, textiles and technical graphics, art, home economics, engineering and technology.

“Like Dún an Rí it’s about getting the best schedule of works for the school,” confirmed Mr Kearney.

At Inver College in Carrickmacross, funding has been granted for two SET rooms, five general classrooms and three specialist rooms. It incorporates approval for a major extension and building upgrade works announced in 2020.”At the moment we are revisiting and putting the final touches to the report to be presented to the department,” said Mr Kearney.

Meanwhile, Castleblayney College is set to get two SEN base classrooms, incorporating two withdrawal classrooms, one central activities space, a multi-sensory room, one para-educational room, a practical room, a daily living skills area and office space.

The works will also see the refurbishment of the school’s existing science labs.

Beech Hill College in Monaghan, meanwhile, is to get six large classrooms and three smaller, two science labs, one multi-media room, a woodwork room and SEN facilities.

Separately investment is promised for St Bricin’s College in Belturbet, where a tender to procure a consultant to carry out specialist works to fix the roof will be issued imminently.

Mr Kearney outlined to the meeting how he had met acting school principal Stephen Smith and an agreement had been reached to address other “pressing issues” including upgrading the school boiler, staff toilets, refurbishing an existing prefab and tackling overhanging trees on site. Funding for an internal painting scheme has also been agreed.

There is also an agreement to address accommodation concerns regarding the YouthReach facility in Carrickmacross, where a request for funding has been submitted to the department.

Mr Kearney says he is “quite confident” of a positive outcome.

The ETB is also planning to carry out safety works on the Tanagh Outdoor Education site near Cootehill.

Though Covid restrictions have held up construction in the Further Education and Training (FET) sector, Mr Kearney says the ETB is still on course to deliver planned investment at the Cavan Institute site on the Dublin Road.

Part of this will be to fully utilise the modular units on site, with a sports therapy room to be fitted out, an arts room, a recording studio, gym, six performance rooms, a theory classroom, a drawing room, nail technology room, computer room and science lab, as well as canteen facilities, to be provided.

“Ultimately this is all working towards the future expansion and extension of Cavan Institute,” Mr Kearney informed the meeting.

He added, that the third level investment is very much targetted at building towards the national strategy, which envisages what the “FET college of the future” might look like.

Finally, ETB has its hand-print on a number of external school construction projects.

Several involve the development of primary schools or gaelscoils in Monaghan - Gaelscoil Eois in Clones, in Rockcorry, Gaelscoil Lorgan in Castleblayney, which is progressing to tender, and plans at Edenmore NS at Emyvale.

Concerning the latter, Mr Kearney says the department is open to considering a “building up option” where issues regarding flooding and space had curbed development in the past.

There are other agreements in the pipeline which involved the ETB assisting in advancing sports facilities for Monaghan Collegiate School at Corlatt and the Royal School in Cavan.

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