Campaigners have presented the speaker of the Assembly with a 2,500-strong petition urging the education minister to prioritise Dromore’s proposed new high school.
School representatives yesteray (Monday) joined local politicians at Stormont, where they called on John O’Dowd to give priority to Dromore High when announcing newbuilds.
Lagan Valley MLAs Jonathan Craig and Edwin Poots said in a joint statement the case for a new high school was not only “indisputable” but more than 35 years in the making.
“Over the last few months,” they said, “ we have been overwhelmed by the support from so many people, who have backed the calls for Dromore High School to receive funding for a new school building on the Banbridge Road site.
“With outline planning permission now in place and the purchase of the site finalised and a signed petition of over 2,500 people, it is clear there is strong public support for the new Dromore High School development to go ahead.
“The case for the new schools is an indisputable one; 35 years ago it was a school heavily oversubscribed and on a site that was not suitable for the size of the school, then for 700 pupils.
“At that stage in the school’s history it was identified that the school did not have enough land to fulfill its compliance with sports facilities.
“At present there are 940 pupils at the school and the situation has got so bad planners are refusing permission for any new mobile classrooms.
“Dromore High School has become a victim of its own success having GCSE results which many grammar schools would love to have, all a result of the quality of teaching, the spirit of friendship and ethos of the school; such achievement is certainly not because of the quality of existing buildings.
DUP colleague and fellow Lagan Valley MLA Brenda Hale commended Drmore High principal Mr Ian McConaghy and his predecessor John Wilkinson.
She added: “Dromore High School newbuild has gained outline planning permission, the site has been purchased and we would jointly call upon the Education Minister to ensure that Dromore High School is top of the list when any announcements are made regarding new builds in the SELB area.”