Posted by Jacqueline Hogge, Tuam Herald in News.

Parents in Claregalway have been reassured that a pledge to open the village’s first secondary school will be honoured by September 2013 if patronage is granted to County Galway Vocational Education Committee.

A decision on patronage is due by late May but at this month’s VEC meeting in Athenry, CEO Joe McDonagh said he understood the VEC was the only applicant involved.

Concerns were raised by both Councillor Liam Carroll and Councillor Jarlath McDonagh at the delay in identifying a site for the school and that such delays would defer the original intake date for first year students of September next year.

“The most up-to-date information we have suggests there will be 112 students for enrolment at the school in September 2013 but the delay in assigning patronage will make it unlikely they have a school to go to.” said Cllr Carroll.

Cllr McDonagh said rumours suggesting that up to eight sites in the area had been rejected by the Department of Education were fueling fears that the school would not be delivered on time.

Decision time here

The time has come for a decision on a site as there seems to be some sort of difficulty with the suitability of these that have been considered so far,” he said.

“We need to move this forward to ensure the original opening date is not deferred.”

CEO Joe McDonagh said he understood Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn was likely to announce all new school patronages at the same time and this was expected in late May or early June.

“My understanding is that here are a number of applicants vying for patronage of other schools around the country and while we seem to be the only one in the running for the Claregalway School, we have to wait until a formal decision is made and announced before we can move forward,” he said.

“There is a commitment there from the Minister to have the school opened by September 2013 and if we are successful in being granted patronage we will ensure the school does open by that date, even if at this stage it is most likely we will have to secure temporary accommodation in order to do so.

“The way things are going it is hard to see a permanent structure in place by 2014 but I want to reassure parents that if we are to become patrons of this school it will open by the date promised.”

VEC Chairmanh Pat Gilmore said the current situation was difficult, as without patronage, the VEC had no authority or influence.

“Once patronage is granted, hopefully to the VEC, we will then have legal standing that will help us move things along.” he said.

High on agenda

The quicker the Minister assigns patronage the better for everyone as at the moment we are in a legal limbo, but I want to assure  everyone that this issue is high on the CEO’s agenda and we look forward to the Minister’s decision over the next few weeks.”

“Your pledge will go a long way toward allaying the fears many parents have that their children will not be accommodated in a new school by September 2013,” he said.