School principal refuses to return pupils to ‘dire’ classroom conditions

Charleville CBS Primary school demands plans for new building within weeks

Toilet in classroom at Charleville CBS Primary, Co Cork, where part of the roof recently fell in.

Toilet in classroom at Charleville CBS Primary, Co Cork, where part of the roof recently fell in.

 

A primary school principal says he will not allow his staff and pupils return to “dire” classroom conditions after the Easter holidays unless the Department of Education provides plans for a replacement building.

Michael O’ Sullivan, principal of Charleville CBS Primary, Co Cork, said its “dilapidated” school building was no longer fit for purpose and sanitary conditions were “dire and similar to those of a school in a developing country”.

“Our roof is leaking. Our plumbing fixtures are falling to pieces. Our timber floors in the classroom are cracked and broken,” he said.

Charleville CBS Primary, Co Cork. Principal Michael O’ Sullivan says the building is no longer fit for purpose.
Charleville CBS Primary, Co Cork. Principal Michael O’ Sullivan says the building is no longer fit for purpose.

“Our ‘terazo’ surface in our corridors is broken, chipped and cracked. We have no disabled toilet and we have a child in a wheelchair starting our school in September.”

In addition, he said there was no hot water in the school and it was too cold to work in during winter due to single-glazed windows and an ineffective heating system.

The school, which has 175 pupils and 25 members of staff, was founded more than 150 years ago by the Christian Brothers. Its current building was built in 1969 and has been unaltered since.

Action

In a recent letter to Minister for Education Joe McHugh, he wrote that the school has “had enough” and wants action.

“I wish to inform that if no concrete plan is put in place before Easter, we will not return to this building after the Easter holidays. If necessary I can supply you with a letter condemning the building,” he wrote.

“Therefore, I require you to source alternative accommodation/school for our 175 pupils and 25 members of staff.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said it had been “advised of the concerns raised and is in contact with the school to progress the matter”.

While the school was successful in 2015 in its application for a major extension and renovation, Mr O’Sullivan said no work had begun on site.

In the meantime, he said, enrolments had risen by 20 per cent and were due to rise further next September.

This meant the school had outgrown the planned extension “even before it has been built”, he said.

While the school applied for a larger extension six months ago, Mr O’Sullivan said no response had been received to date.

“This consideration process, as I well know at this stage, takes years,” he said. “In the meantime I have just received a grant for an additional four classrooms to be housed in prefabs. I feel the attitude from the department is to give us prefabs and to forget about us.”

The department had previously said it was investing record sums in delivering 23,000 permanent school places this year, while projects in a further 700 schools were taking place under “summer works” schemes.