Finn Valley College dispute resolved

Carolyn Farrar

Reporter:

Carolyn Farrar

The dispute has been resolved between the main contractor and the electrical sub-contractor working on the new Finn Valley College, but the Donegal Vocational Education Committee (VEC) has not yet announced when the new school will be opened to students.

The dispute has been resolved between the main contractor and the electrical sub-contractor working on the new Finn Valley College, but the Donegal Vocational Education Committee (VEC) has not yet announced when the new school will be opened to students.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, the VEC said the sub-contractor was back working in the new college, “and we are optimistic that County Donegal VEC will take handover of the college in the near future”.

In the statement, the VEC said the new school year for Finn Valley College students will begin tommorrow, August 31st, with classes for first-year students in the old Finn Valley College. All other classes will return as planned and will continue in the old school building until the new building is handed over to the VEC, according to the statement.

Bus transport, construction of a footpath on the road to the new school and the school’s opening were on the agenda of yesterday’s Finn Valley College board of management meeting.

Donegal County Council also put in place yesterday a one-way system directed by traffic lights on the road to the new college. The council yesterday also closed off half of the road with cones to provide space for pedestrians and to facilitate construction of a footpath there.

John McLaughlin, council director of service for roads and transportation, said Friday the estimated date for completion of the footpath is Sept. 30th.

But the Department of Education and Skills has declined to fund the feeder buses the VEC requested to transport students the six-tenths of a mile between the new college and the Bus Éireann drop-off point on the Railway Road.

That isn’t good enough, said parents who had waited outside of the former Finn Valley College building yesterday morning while the board of management met inside.

“No buses is not an option,” the mother of a first-year student at the college said yesterday.

The feeder-bus service was estimated to cost 10,000 euro for three buses for the coming year. At yesterday’s board of management meeting, the board directed the VEC to appeal the department’s decision on the feeder buses and to contact the minister for education and skills to request his intervention.

Up to 15 parents waited outside the former college building yesterday while the board met. A public meeting last Thursday drew about 50 people who expressed concerns for the safety of children walking up and down the narrow road to the new college. Parents of children who take Bus Éireann transport and private buses were not happy with a plan to have buses drop off and collect children at the Railway Road instead of the school.

One woman, the mother of a Leaving Certificate student, said she also worried about the younger children walking up the road. “If my child were 11 or 12, I wouldn’t send them,” she said.

The woman wanted to know whose decision it was to retain the drop-off point at the same location that served the college when it was housed in the main street building. Another woman, the mother of a third-year student, said parents had received conflicting answers to their questions when they contacted Bus Éireann and school administrators.

Last week’s public meeting was organised by Maggie Gilbert, a member of the parents’ association and board of management, who said she called the meeting at the request of parents. A follow-up meeting was scheduled to be held last night at the St. Mary’s Parish Centre in Stranorlar.

Meeting the waiting parents in front of the old college after yesterday’s board meeting, Ms. Gilbert said parents would discuss their response at the public meeting later that evening.

“This evening we can decide what it is we want to do,” she said.

Carolyn Farrar

@donegaldemocrat.com