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Tuesday, 27th April 2021

More cash to be wasted as school plans delayed – Nash

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An aerial view of the Educate Together Secondary School at Colpe surrounded by acres of land offering it great potential for expansion.

Deputy Ged Nash has urged the Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, to stop burning through taxpayers’ cash and fast-track the building of a permanent school facility on the Mill Road for the Drogheda Educate Together school community. 

“It was only after I revealed that the Department of Education spent over €2.1 million to date on the Mill Road site that the Minister finally relented and pledged to keep DETSS at its current home” he said. 

“We were told all along that once a permanent site had been secured that a permanent new school would be built as a priority. 

“Now we are being told that the project will not be finished and operational until 2024, way outside the 18 months normally applied under the Design and Build approach. 

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“The way the Department is going, the cost of temporary accommodation on the Mill Road site will be just shy of €3million. This is a false economy with only one winner - the portacabin suppliers. 

“I have submitted questions to the Minister urging her to instruct her officials to fast track this essential project for East Meath and Drogheda by lodging a full planning application with Meath County Council in the next few weeks.” 

Meanwhile the Minister has told Deputy Fergus O’Dowd that work is currently ongoing to ensure delivery of additional (temporary) accommodation at the school ahead of the 2021 academic year. 

She also outlined the lengthy process for new school projects which is as follows: 

Stage 1 – Preliminary Design (5 to 6 months).  The Preliminary Design stage includes reviewing all information provided as part of the Project Brief.  Establishing and analysing all site factors and constraints which may impact on the projects viability. 

Stage 2 - Design (which is divided into Stage 2a - Developed Sketch Scheme and Stage 2b - Detailed Design) (9 to 12 months at each stage) 

The Stage 2a includes development of the design and accurately cost plan the options agreed with the Client to a stage where the project is fully cost planned and can be prepared to lodge for statutory approvals. 

The Stage 2b includes obtaining all statutory approvals, preparing a set of fully detailed Tender documents, and preparing an accurate pre-tender cost plan. 

Stage 3 - Tender Action, Evaluation and Award (9 to 12 months).  On the completion of the examination of tenders, written authorisation of the Department must be obtained before issuing Letter of Intent and Letter of Acceptance.  Once all the contract pre-conditions in the letter of intent have been met and the Department has given written authorisation to procced to Contract, a letter of Acceptance can be issued.  This forms the contract and is the contract and is the date for the calculation of the Contract period. 

Stage 4 – Construction (12 to 24 months) All members of the Design Team are collectively responsible for the effective management of the project in order to achieve its completion on time and within budget. 

Stage 5 - Handover of Works and Final Account (12 months minimum). The Design team individually and collectively are required to effectively manage the Project, with the co-operation of the Contractor achieve a satisfactory standard of Construction, and achieve Substantial Completion of all elements of the Projects by the Contract Section/Phase handover dates and overall Contract Completion Date. 

The timelines outlined above are indicative and can be achieved by an efficient design team encountering no problems along the way. However, the period of time it takes to progress through each of these stages varies from project to project depending on its size and complexity and can often take longer than that indicated.

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