With work already underway, Stewart expect to complete the new school by December 2013.
The 32-classroom building, located on a five-acre site, will be built at a cost of €6.6 million. The programme for completion is approximately 18 months.
Works consist of New 2-storey 32 classroom school, with large hall, changing rooms, and ancillary accommodation. The total gross floor area is 5200sq.m.on a green field site of 2.34ha with tarmac ball courts and car parking, etc.
David Casey, chairman of the Ennis National School Board of Management commented, “We are absolutely delighted to be at this stage, it’s been a long time coming. I believe this will be the biggest primary school project being undertaken at the moment. A lot of work has been done by a lot of people to get to this stage and we kept at it and at it and persevered.”
With the new school underway, Mr Casey believes the high-spec facilities will not just benefit existing pupils but will prove a major draw for potential new pupils.
“Perhaps some parents may have been waiting to see what would happen with the new school but now that we will have these great new facilities, this could be an impetus for people to look at Ennis National School as a place to send their children. The congestion that was associated with the current site will be gone. The new school will have fantastic access and it really is state-of-the-art,” he said.
He also praised the Department of Education’s architect and planning team for their help with the project. The new school design will be used by the Department of Education and Science as a template model for future large schools. In addition to the 32 classrooms, which will be fitted with whiteboards and computer stations, the building will include rooms for the school’s reading class, special education teachers and library. The building will have an energy rating and a level of disability access that is ahead of current regulations.
Plans for the new school also include an extended hall, dressing rooms, shower facilities and playing pitch, which have not been funded by the Department of Education. A fundraising committee has been set up at the school to raise funds for these facilities.
Back in 2008, Ennis National School hit the headlines when parents withdrew their children in protest against the conditions at the school.
Deputy Michael McNamara has described the minister’s visit next week as a great day for education in Clare saying this “hugely significant development” will “benefit generations of children to come”.