A decision on the appointment of a contractor for the construction of the new Devenish College is “anticipated” to be made by the Department of Education before the end of May.

It was previously reported in The Impartial Reporter back in January of this year that the tender process had begun and tenders were to close in mid-February, with the construction of the new school to begin in early April.

The Department of Education confirmed in a statement to this newspaper on Monday (April 29) that bidders had requested an extension to the due date of the construction work tenders. This request was granted by the Department.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said: “At the request of the bidders an extension was granted to the due date for receipt of tenders for the construction work.”

She continued: “Tenders have subsequently been received and assessed by the Education Authority (EA) and a tender report has been prepared and submitted to the Department for consideration.”

“It is anticipated that a decision on the appointment of a contractor will be made before the end of May,” she added.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter in January, Principal of Devenish College Simon Mowbray confirmed that the new Devenish College building had, at that point, gone to tender and that six contractors had been invited to submit prices and their application to deliver the new £21.5 million school.

When asked what starting the construction stage means to the school community, which comes almost 15 years after the Tempo Road site was initially purchased by the Western Education and Library Board, Mr. Mowbray said: “It’s fantastic. I was appointed as principal of the school in September 2015 and was aware obviously of the long history and the wait for the new build but the following month, in October 2015 a design team was appointed to design and ultimately build the new school.”

“I have to say, over the last two and a half to three years there has been continual progress,” he added.

Explaining the progress from the design stage to the current tendering process for the school’s construction, Mr. Mowbray said: “It started off in those stages as basic sketches and we had to make sure that the layout of the classrooms and so on were where we wanted them to be, and over time that has evolved in to the final finished model of the school and now that has gone out to tender so it’s fantastic.” He added: “I just can’t wait now to see diggers and builders and contractors on site to get the actual building process started.”