Parents fear Wollombi school will be shut down

Please stay tuned for the community forum. If you are interested in helping to save Wollombi School from being closed and the land sold – please contact me.

James Ryan:  jamesryancessnock@gmail.com

Parents fear Wollombi school will be shut down

CONCERN: Wollombi Public School P and C president Lindy Williams, parent Fiona Burless, Cessnock councillor James Ryan, parent Burt Burless, community member Val Milgate, parent Frank Ganino and Greens MLC Dr. John Kaye discuss their concerns.

CONCERN: Wollombi Public School P and C president Lindy Williams, parent Fiona Burless, Cessnock councillor James Ryan, parent Burt Burless, community member Val Milgate, parent Frank Ganino and Greens MLC Dr. John Kaye discuss their concerns.

A decision on the future of Wollombi Public School is set to be made later this year.

The Department of Education began a consultation process with parents at the school in November last year, when it was feared that the five-student school could have been closed by the end of that term.

The community rallied in support at the time and the review process has continued.

A consultative group comprising principals and parent representatives of Wollombi and Laguna Public Schools and the region’s school education director Bryan Campbell formed in March to focus on ‘educational provisions in the Wollombi Valley’.

Eight kilometres from Wollombi, Laguna Public School had 57 students enrolled in February, its highest number for at least eight years.

A community survey was conducted in May as part of the review process.

A forum will be held at the school in August (on a date to be confirmed), when Mr. Campbell will advise the community on the results of the survey.

Wollombi P and C president Lindy Williams said she is concerned that the review process is a “smokescreen for a pre-determined decision” that will see the 161-year-old school closed down.

“It’s been a short-sighted approach; they haven’t looked at the infrastructure or potential growth,” Ms. Williams said.

“The resources are available; it’s a perfectly fine school – why close it?

“It’s all about economics and not about education.

“Our valley is headed for growth, but these statistics have not been discussed.”

Ms. Williams currently has two children at Wollombi Public School, with an elder son now in high school, having completed his entire primary education there.

She said the small school has given her children a wonderful opportunity to develop and grow.

“It’s a nurturing and caring environment,” she said.

“It has an academic focus, and the benefits are a given, with individually-tailored programs.

“I have seen students who don’t fit into larger environments flourish and grow.

“It’s like a family, very caring.”

Greens MLC Dr. John Kaye met with P and C representatives in Wollombi on July 18 and will be raising the matter in parliament.

“I’m really concerned that the proper process has not been followed and that this priceless community asset has been put at risk,” Dr. Kaye said.

“The department is not recognising the consequences for the kids and the community.

“The school serves as the heart of Wollombi.

“Laguna is a great school, but installing a larger demountable there, while trying to close Wollombi, makes no sense.

“It’s all about real estate values and cost-cutting, and nothing about education and the community.”

Stay tuned to The Advertiser for more information on the community forum.

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