Parkhall group meets with Education chief
THE Education Minister has met with a delegation from Parkhall Integrated College over the lack of progress on plans for a new school building.
South Antrim MP William McCrea headed up the meeting with John O’Dowd MLA at Stormont in order to impress upon the Minister the urgency for a new school building that would meet the needs of both pupils and staff at Parkhall.
Mr McCrea invited his fellow South Antrim Assembly Members to join him in a united delegation to the minister, also requesting the attendance of the Principal, Mr George Beattie and the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr Mervyn Alexander.
Commenting on the meeting, Mr McCrea said: “Parkhall Integrated College is urgently in need of the new school build that has already been promised.
“The pupils and staff deserve our highest praise for the manner they have coped with buildings that are dilapidated and dangerous.
“The Department’s demand for rationalisation within the Borough has already occurred with the amalgamation of Antrim High School and Ardneveigh High in 1999 and the closure of Massereene College in 2006.
“During our meeting I requested the Principal, Mr Beattie, to outline the case for the new build which he did in a competent and professional manner.
“The present situation with the split school site 1.2 miles apart is totally unacceptable and ultimately unsustainable not only because of the deteriorating school buildings, but also due to the impact on the school budget having to run two buildings.
“At the meeting we discussed the significant impact on many aspects of school life as well as the major health and safety issues that have been left unattended.
“There was a unanimous opinion across the delegation that stressed the urgency of the matter and the fact that only a new build would be able to rectify the situation.
“I was also delighted that I could inform the Minister that the Northern Board has clearly stated that Parkhall Integrated College is its number one new build priority.”
Mr McCrea described the meeting as “profitable” and said the Education Minister was left in no doubt as to the united voice of the Antrim people through their elected representatives.
“We await a response to this further representation and I place on record my sincere appreciation for the efforts of Mr Beattie and Mr Alexander on behalf of the Board of Governors,” Mr McMcCrea added.
South Antrim MLA Danny Kinahan was also in attendance at the meeting and he praised the Principal and Staff at Parkhall school for their determination to pursue a long awaited rebuild. “Having sought for many months to secure a meeting with Education Minister O’Dowd, a cross-party group of MLAs and representatives from Parkhall had a very productive meeting,” Mr Kinahan said.
He added: “Mr O’Dowd did say that he was actively looking at the case and would make an announcement in late Autumn.
“Principal George Beattie and his staff have done a phenomenal job in rising to the challenges of working across a split site – which was noted by all the MLAs present.
“It was great to see how positive and productive such meetings can be when we adopted a collaborative approach – this would always be my preferred method of working and I believe we would all get more done for the people who elect us.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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