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Joy for Laois students as new school set to be officially opened by May

St Francis School

The wait for students in one Laois school is almost over as their brand new building is set to be fully completed in the coming months.

Back in July 2017, almost four years ago, planning permission was granted for St Francis School to transfer from the Timahoe Road and build on the site of the old St Paul’s Primary School on the Borris Road, Portlaoise.

The plan was for the school to open around Easter 2020 but the project was hit by delays.

An internal row between the contractor and the Department of Education over a separate project in Maynooth put a halt to construction last year but that was eventually resolved.

That, coupled with delays associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, have been frustrating for all involved but the end is now clearly in sight with hopes that students can by physically in their new school by May.

When completed, the new school will be home to 12 classrooms in a two-storey structure that will also have a car park catering for 44 spaces.

Speaking about the new school, Fr Paddy Byrne, chairperson of the Board of Management, said he is confident they will receive the keys to the building in April.

He said: “We are the very final process now and it had been slightly delayed by the lockdown and its impacts on construction.

“But we would be confident that we will receive the keys to the building by early April.

“We are now at the final stage. It is a state of the art campus.

“So now we are getting the IT and other fittings like that finished off so that the school can fully open.

“So when all that is completed, I would be confident that by some time in May, all of the students will be in their new school.

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.