Laois’s newest secondary school is to get a brand new building after the Department of Education confirmed it was allocating €24.5 million to the project.
Dunamase College in Portlaoise, which is currentlysplit between grounds of the old Portlaoise CBS and Tech, is to be the beneficiary after first opening its doors in 2017.
The new school will be located at a site on the Timahoe Road – which was purchased in July 2019.
Under the patronage of LOETB, it currently has an enrolment of 320 students – a figure which is set to more than treble now.
Welcoming the news, Chief Executive Joe Cunningham said this was a great step forward and would provide certainty for the school community and those wishing to enrol their children at the school in coming years.
The site for the permanent home will have access from both the Timahoe road and the roundabout at the primary school campus where Educate Together, the Gaelscoil, and Maryborough are based.
It will be home to a school facility that will cater for up to 1,000 students in order to meet the growing needs for places at post-primary level in the Portlaoise catchment area.
A key feature of the development for Dunamase College will be a dedicated ‘park and stride’ facility that will allow parents of students attending all schools in the area to drop off and collect their children in a safe manner and allow students walk to and from their destination school.
Liam O’Neill, Chair of the Board of Management at Dunamase College, welcomed the news highlighting the certainty it now gives for the community.
He said: “We are delighted with how the school is developing and, while the site has been secured already, progressing to the design and construction phase is timely and will strengthen the educational development of the school”.
Principal Aoife Elster said that LOETB has started the process to procure the technical expertise and it hopes to have the Design Team in place by the end of December.
Local Councillors Caroline Dwane-Stanley, Catherine Fitzgerald, and Mary Sweeney, are members of both the board of LOETB and the Dunamase College Board of Management.
They welcomed the commitment of funding to the building project and hoped it could now progress without delay.
The school offers education through the medium of English in the mainstream setting and education through the medium of Irish in the Aonad Lán Ghaeilge which allows students to study all curricular subjects as Gaeilge.