Strangford MP Jim Shannon speaking after the meeting with Roger Sayers of the Education Authority and the Principal of Killyleagh Integrated Primary School Jason Milliken, chair of the Board of Governors along with Cllr Billy Walker and Cllr Andrews, said: “This meeting was about trying to find a way forward for the upgrade and refurbishment of the Primary School.
“The collapse of the ceiling at the school, the needs for other minor repairs to the electric and roof has made the refurbishment of Killyleagh Primary School vitally important.
“The meeting with the Education Authority was to press for the much needed SEP programme. If the project were to cost £4m, a grant could be available up to 75% of the total of monies required so £3million.
“Killyleagh Integrated Primary School has 125 pupils and now a nursery with up to 25 places and it has grown in leaps and bounds. The frustration of the current political impasse has underlined the need for the monies to be released and it is hoped that that can be done shortly and that come April 2018 the timescale and date for the work can be confirmed.
“It is now imperative that the much needed work can continue and that Killyleagh Primary School can then have the work carried out on site that is so desperately needed. Close co-operation over the next weeks will be important and everyone is committed to just that.
“The opportunity to push for a new build was highlighted but the EA had said it would be over 10 years for a new build but this work could be carried out to bring the school up to a decent standard by the SEP programme. Whilst we are not giving up on a new build, in the meantime this work is needed and will be carried out.”
School Principal Jason Milliken said: “I am delighted that our political representatives are getting behind the school and supporting us given our current situation. The school does require quite significant works to keep it in order. This meeting was therefore very useful as we look at the prospect of making significant replacements.
“The EA has looked at the school and we are basically looking at a situation of whether we replace and refurbish the school or go for a new build. We are looking at a funding package at the moment of £3-4 million and we could possibly tap into this. However, with government spending locked down because of the current political situation, we look forward to this relaxing in the future so we can make a full appraisal of the works required and the direction going forward.”
DUP Cllr Billy Walker added: “It was a good meeting with the Principal underlining the pressing needs and the Education Authority acknowledging that work needed to be carried out. As the final deadline for the Talks at Stormont draws closer, so does the ability for decisions to be made and for steps to be taken and for the school this cannot come soon enough.”
SDLP Cllr Terry Andrews added: “This is a great wee school that is getting bigger and better with each new term and these works are desperately needed to help the school to reach its potential.”