Tallinn wants new 1,200-pupil basic school in former ministry building

The Ministry of Rural Affairs vuilding on Lat tänav.
The Ministry of Rural Affairs vuilding on Lat tänav. Source: Google Street View

Tallinn Deputy Mayor Tiit Terik (Center) has proposed that a new school be built in the soon-to-be-vacant Ministry of Rural Affairs building in Tallinn's Old Town, with places for more than a thousand pupils. In order for this to happen, Terik is requesting that the state transfer ownership of the building to the city free of charge.

"As far as the City of Tallinn is aware, the ministry is planning to move out of the building at 39/41 Lai tänav. In light of this, we ask you to consider and consent to the transfer of the property owned by the Republic of Estonia and managed by the ministry to the City of Tallinn free of charge, in accordance with the State Assets Act," Terik wrote in a letter to Minister of Regional Affairs Madis Kallas (SDE).

In Terik's view, the building has great potential for use as municipal school at a time where Tallinn's inner city schools are overcrowded. "The Tallinn Education Board has been looking for solutions to this situation34. Additional classrooms have been planned in the form of temporary modular solutions at Tallinn Ühisgümnaasium for example. However, the possibilities for school expansion in the area are very limited. Several buildings are subject to heritage restrictions and there are no buildings or plots of land currently owned by the city that would have the potential to complement the city's education network," Terik explained.

According to the deputy mayor, the Laia tänav building would be suitable for use as a municipal school, with the potential to plan for a basic school consisting of five parallel buildings, enough to cater for almost 1,200 pupils.

The location would also mean, that in addition to the children in the city center it would also be able to accept those from the nearby Kalaranna district.

According to Terik, the number of students in the area has been steadily increasing, from 9,418 during the 2015/2016 school year to 10,479 last year.

Terik also mentioned the building's potential shortcomings, including the lack of space for sports facilities. "It is not possible to plan for a sports hall in the building, but it is possible to plan smaller gymnastics or dance halls. In the immediate vicinity there is the green area around the city walls, as well as the Rannavärav stadium and the Snelli stadium. The inner courtyard will also be available, potentially for this purpose. The real challenge will be the catering. That is, the size of the potential dining hall. However, solutions will be found. The Tallinn Education Department has also drawn up a potential plan for the use of the space, the feasibility of which, including in relation to heritage constraints, is yet to be assessed," Terik wrote.

According to the Tallinn Education Department, next fall there will be almost 100 more first grade pupils in the city center (Kesklinn) district than there are this year. Based on development plans, which have already been adopted, as well as those currently pending, the area could see the arrival of an additional 35,000 new residents in the coming years.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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