PARENTS at Cork’s only school for children with severe and profound learning difficulties are hoping the students could be accommodated in a vacant building next to their current premises.
St Gabriel’s Special School in Bishopstown is a special needs school for 43 children aged four to 18 years.
It is the only school in Cork that deals with children with a dual diagnosis of autism and severe intellectual disability.
However, the building in which it is housed has been beset by a number of issues.
These include a lack of hot running water in some classrooms; bathrooms that are not wheelchair accessible; toilets which are not adapted for children with severe medical conditions; a lack of ramps for wheelchair access and heating and ventilation issues.
Next door to St Gabriel’s is Scoil Naomh Therese which closed in 2013 and is under the patronage of the Catholic Church.
Initial contact had been made with former Cork Bishop John Buckley about the possibility of allowing St Gabriel’s moving into the premises and expanding and parents are hoping to continue progress with newly ordained Bishop Fintan Gavin.
City councillor Ted Tynan said moving St Gabriel’s into the idle building could be the ideal solution for the school.
“There is a school next door lying idle. It has been idle for six years. St Gabriel’s would love to be able to move into that school and expand as they have a waiting list,” Mr Tynan said.
“They could open up more classrooms and it’s on the same site with a slight divisional pathway between the two schools,” he added
“They are hoping the new Bishop could facilitate it. When I meet with the parents, my heart bleeds for them.,” Mr Tynan added.
Parents of St Gabriel’s have so far raised over €22,000 of the estimated €200,000 in upgrades needed to refurbish the current school building via a GoFundMe page while they await funding to build a new school at the Enable Ireland site at Curraheen.
However, the vacant building next door could be utilised as an alternative solution.