A public meeting is to be held to air concerns about the planned closures of St Mogue's College in Bawnboy and St Bricin's College in Belturbet.
It follows the revelation by the Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB) last week that it is to amalgamate the schools and relocate them in a new €15M school in Ballyconnell by 2023.
The meeting will take place at St Mogue's College on Monday, December 10, at 8.30pm.
John Kearney, CEO of CMETB, told The Anglo-Celt this week that while the organisation is “open to engaging” with communities on the plans, “no decision” had been taken in relation to sending a representative to address the meeting.
“We will very much be engaging with what is the outcome of that meeting,” he said.
Mr Kearney earlier informed the Celt that the education board remains “committed” to the communities of both Belturbet and Bawnboy, and assured them “once the school in Ballyconnell is open, the remaining CMETB properties will continue to be utilised for a range of education and training services for adults, youth and community".
He added that in the run-up to the decision being taken and approved at board level, “all CMETB plans, approved by the Department of Education and Skills, for the development of both St Mogue's College and St Bricin's College, have been pursued.”
In relation to obtaining a site for the new school, particularly with regard to traffic issues in the Ballyconnell area, Mr Kearney noted that, once a suitable site has been identified, the CMETB would work with Cavan County Council, An Garda Síochána and the community to ensure traffic is “managed in a manner, which is safe for all concerned".
The decision by CMETB, understood to have been in train for the past nine months, has been taken in the context, among other things, of low enrolment figures. Present pupil numbers in Bawnboy total 223; while 205 students attend the school in Belturbet.
While falling population in the west of the county has, in part, hit in-take at St Mogue's, the Celt understands new admissions to St Bricin's worryingly count within the low teens for next year's term.
CMETB believes the establishment of a new €15 million school in Ballyconnell by 2023 will halt the "brain drain" of an estimated 120 students from the area to the four Cavan Town schools, as well as to other schools in Leitrim and even, in some cases, across the Border to Derrylin.
Noting the work done in the west of the county to maintain rural communities through the 'Stand with Glan Campaign', Fianna Fáil's John Paul Feeley said he had seen “close hand the importance of keeping a school open and allowing it and a wider community thrive".
He added: “If central government were proposing amalgamations and closures, it would be disappointing but not altogether surprising. The local ETB comprises officials whose remit is to provide quality education in counties Cavan and Monaghan and board members who are, by and large, elected by the people of these two counties. It is most disappointing that these type of proposals, which are totally unacceptable, have been brought forward.
“Public representatives and board members of the ETB must stand up for the people and the communities in the catchment area of both schools,” concluded Cllr Feeley.