Renting prefabs at two Offaly schools costs a staggering amount over eight years

MORE THAN € 23,700 per month have been paid to prefab suppliers at two Offaly schools for almost eight years.

Figures from Laois & Offaly Education and Training Board (ETB) show that installing and renting prefabs in Edenderry and Clara has cost some 2.2 million euros since 2014.

The ETB operates Oaklands Community College in Edenderry and Ard Scoil Chiarain Naofa in Clara and building two replacement schools is a priority for the council.

According to records kept by the ETB, spending on temporary buildings peaked at € 678,000 in 2020, crushing the previous record of € 458,000 reached in 2016.

Asked by the Tullamore Tribune about spending on additional housing, ETB President Cllr Robert McDermott said both schools have seen significant growth in demand for school places.

“It should be noted that enrollment at Oaklands has increased from 280 to 820 students. This is huge growth and all credit goes to the school administration and staff for how well they have adapted to the changes, ”said Cllr McDermott.

“The capacity being reached in the existing buildings, the ETB made every effort to acquire adjoining land but this was not possible. As things have unfolded, acquiring the town site for a 1,000-seat school is the best possible solution for Oaklands and the Edenderry catchment area.

“Such an investment – in the order of 25 million euros – takes management and time, but I am happy to report that the Ministry of Education has approved the design of the school and we hope to present an application for planning at the start of the new year, then launch the tender process for the project manager ”.

On Clara, Cllr McDermott said that a high demand for places at Ard Scoil Chiaráin Naofa is also evident.

“The school has experienced strong growth and has also responded to the demand for places for students with additional educational needs. The school has been approved for a major redevelopment to its current location, but the ETB, together with Offaly County Council, has submitted to the ministry a bid for a new school building to be developed at the Drayton Villa site. on Kilbeggan Road which we believe can be provided for the same funding, ”said Fianna Fail city councilor (photo below).

“Large capital projects take time, for good reason, but in the meantime we have to meet the demand for places in schools and additional accommodation is the only option available. All the contracts in place were the subject of public tenders and approved by the Ministry of Education. We look forward to seeing the two schools in new permanent buildings, ”concluded the ETB chair.

The spending started in the last three months of 2014 when two separate payments of € 96,958.04 and € 32,086.86 were made to a company called Roankabin Manufacturing by the ETB.

The following year, the same company, which operates as Actavo, was paid € 41,130 for what has been described as “extra accommodation” in Oaklands.

The first three months of 2016 saw almost € 371,000 paid to Roankabin for “capital works” at Oaklands and the ETB then paid the company € 43,493 for the second half rental.

Also in 2016, another company, Accommodation & Building Systems, was paid € 44,190 in relation to Ard Scoil Chiarain Naofa.

In 2017, Roankabin received € 86,931 in rental income from prefabs at Oaklands in Edenderry and another company, Instaspace Ltd, was paid € 70,716.10 to install prefabs there.

The same amount was paid to Roankabin in 2018 for the prefab rental in Oaklands, but on top of that Instaspace Ltd earned € 56,604.60.

The Accommodation & Building Systems prefab rental invoice for Clara that year was € 66,108.56 and the same amount was paid in 2019.

Instaspace Ltd was paid for a full year of prefab rental in Oaklands in 2019, € 113,209, and in that year Roankabin’s rental income from prefabs from the same school was € 86,985.

Last year, a pressing need for additional classrooms at Ard Scoil Chiarain in Clara resulted in the involvement of another prefab supplier.

Roadmaster Caravans Ltd was first paid 204,048.10 € and then received an additional 88,958.79 €.

Meanwhile, Accommodation & Building Systems’ rental invoice for its prefabs in Clara amounted to an additional € 66,108.56 over the 12 months.

Roankabin’s 2020 revenue from Oaklands prefabs was again € 86,985 while Instaspace earned an additional € 113,209 in rental income, plus a separate amount, € 118,894.13, for even more ‘housing’. additional ”at the Edenderry school.

Figures for the first nine months of this year indicate that Instaspace was paid € 113,288, € 86,252 went to Roankabin and Accommodation & Building Systems earned € 65,571.

Four years ago, Clara’s school obtained a building permit for a temporary two-story, four-class structure (see below).

In Edenderry, the ETB aims to build a new school on the site of the unfinished hotel structure near the Dunnes Stores shopping center.

In addition to classrooms and offices, the school will have a gym, gym, hard courts and a full-size GAA field.

According to investment project plans confirmed by the government at the end of September, the Oaklands project is at stage “2A”, which designates it as a “detailed outline project”.

It will then move on to Step 2B, which is for a detailed design before being tendered to the construction contractors.

Ard Scoil Chiarain in Clara is only in the first step of the process, the preliminary design, but the intention is to build the new school on the grounds of the old parish house, Drayton Villa.

About Gene Schafer

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