Negotiations on the purchase of a new site for St. Teresa’s Special School in Ballinasloe have fallen through, but the Department of Education have already started talks with another landowner.
St. Teresa’s Special School is run by Ability West, with 20 students and 15 staff currently housed in temporary accommodation at the former St. Brigid’s psychiatric hospital.
“We had received positive news last May that negotiations had commenced with a landowner on the purchase of a site for the construction of a new purpose built building,” Galway TD Denis Naughten said.
The Independent TD said that the Department of Education has confirmed to him that those talks have broken off, but that it is engaging with another landowner with a view towards purchasing a site for the new school.
“While it is disappointing that these talks have fallen through, I hope that the talks on the alternative site will lead to a positive outcome for local pupils”
“We need a clear commitment of funding for this project. For far too long children with special needs have had to travel great distances to access education.”
“We now have a facility on our doorstep and we need a commitment that the money will be put in place to allow for the construction of a purpose-built school for the children of Ballinasloe, east Galway and south Roscommom”.
St. Teresa’s made national headlines earlier this year after its insurance bill jumped from €3,000 in 2017 to €27,000 this year.
The Department of Education had to step in and sanction €23,000 in emergency funding just so that it could keep the doors open.
Special schools around the country have been struggling with rising insurance premiums which are the result of a growing number of claims against them.
Constructing a purpose built facility for students with special needs could make a huge difference in the potential for incidents that lead to claims against the school.
Deputy Naughten asked Minister McHugh this week what progress has been made to date in developing a purpose built school facility for St. Teresa’s.
The Minister responded in a written answer which said “The Deputy will be aware that a major capital project for the school in question is included in my Department’s school building programme to be delivered as part of the National Development Plan.”
“This project necessitates the acquisition of a new site and a number of site options were identified by Galway Co. Council.”
“These were comprehensively assessed and a preferred site option was identified and negotiations entered into between the Department and the Agent for the Vendors. Unfortunately, the Vendors subsequently withdrew from the process.”
“However, a potential alternative site option has been identified and discussions are ongoing with the Landowner with a view to acquiring this site.”