THE State is spending more than €660,000 on rented prefabs every year for primary and post-primary schools in Limerick city and county.
Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan released the figures in the Dáil in relation to the Government’s annual expenditure on rented prefabs for schools across the country.
According to the statistics, €661,500.67 is spent annually on 17 primary and post-primary schools’ rented prefabs in Limerick; six of which are city-based and 11 are situated in the county.
Since 2014, the Department of Education has rented 11 new prefabs at Our Lady Queen of Peace National School, Monaleen National School, St Vincent’s, St Paul’s National School, An Mhodscoil Castleconnell, two at Limerick East Educate Together, Mungret, two in Cholaiste Chiarán and two at Hazelwood College.
Minister O’Sullivan told the Limerick Leader that the amount spent annually on prefabs was “at least €660,000” as some schools own their own prefabs. The Labour TD said that the Government will be doing a national audit on all schools across the country to review the numbers of prefabs rented and owned by schools.
“The plan is that, by the end of the current capital plan which is 2021, there will be no more long-term use of prefabs. Now, there will always be situations maybe where there is a new school is being established and the building isn’t ready, or you need one [prefab] for an urgent situation,” she said.
She added that it is “money that we don’t want to be spending because we prefer to have permanent classrooms, in the point of view of the development of the children, as well as the cost point of view”.
Gaelscoil an Raithin, where prefabs are in operation, will move to where St Munchin’s boys school was before the Thomond primary school amalgamation, which is sometimes an option for new schools.
“You will always have limited use of them [prefabs] for the short term use, particularly where you are establishing a new school, but you don’t have a permanent building. When a new school starts, it usually starts very small.”