BALLYMONEY High School is not a priority for the Education Board - according to a local MLA.
Chairman of the Assembly Education Committee and MLA Mervyn Storey is to lead a delegation from Ballymoney High School to meet the Chief Executive of the NEELB, following the announcement by the Education Minister of further capital builds for schools.
Speaking to the Times, Cllr Storey hit out at the news that Ballymoney High was ‘yet again’ not on the capital builds list despite being promised and a ‘process being put in place for a new school’.
“It would seem that as far as the NEELB was concerned Ballymoney was not its number one priority and as the announcement by the Minister confirmed Parkhall in Antrim was given the green light,” he said.
“I have spoken to the Minister and the NEELB and I will now lead a delegation from the school including the Principal and Chairman of the Board of Govenors to meet with the Chief Executive of the NEELB Mr Shane McCurdy.
“We need clarity as to why Ballymoney has not been progressed and how the needs of the school can be met.”
On the wider issues relating to the Minister’s statement Cllr Storey continued: “Any investment in our education system is to be welcomed and no doubt the schools who will benefit from this announcement will be pleased that they have at long last made it to this stage.
“However, the statement also raises a number of issues to be addressed by the Minister and his Department.
“In June 2012 the Minister announced 18 projects and at that stage he indicated they could be under construction by the end of the financial year. However, since then only one of those projects has met that expectation.
“I raised this issue with the Minister in a meeting prior to his announcement and I believe that it indicates the process used to bring forward capital build projects is cumbersome and bureaucratic. What the Minister has announced is the potential of new capital projects but questions still remain over what timeframe they will be delivered.
“I do welcome that the Minister has moved on the creation of a school enhancement policy which supports projects from £500,000 to £4,000,000.
“This should be able to begin the process of delivering much needed maintenance works in a more timely manner.
“However, we must bear in mind that the Audit Office has estimated that the maintenance backlog in schools stands at £300,000 in 2010.
“It will be worrying to many people that the Minister has made clear a link between area planning and capital funding. Using a financial hammer to crack a policy nut is not a good way for any minister to proceed. ”