Now schools a concern

26 Sep, 2007 09:00 PM
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WUBIN residents are angry at the lack of consultation prior to an Education Department decision to close the town’s primary school.

Wubin P&C president Peter Reudavey said the first the com-munity heard about the closure was when a letter arrived from Director General of Education Sharyn O’Neill on August 6, stating that the school would be closed at the end of this year’s fourth semester.

“The district director did attend the school and held a small brief meeting prior to the letter arriving in concern to our low numbers, but we were never directly told, until the letter arrived, that the school would close,” Mr Reudavey said. “We don’t believe the community has been treated very well over this.”

Mr Reudavey said while he realised the school was never going to have big numbers, they were initially told that 12 children would be enough to keep the school open.

“That was then lifted to 15,” he said. “We believe numbers will sit in the 12-15 range in coming years and we are confident that will be stable.”

Mr Reudavey said a mining project was being proposed 80km north of Wubin, which would probably attract some families to the town.

“I understand construction will commence in December and that a high number of workers will be required for that project,” he said.

“It is hard to attract families to come and live in the town when we do not have a school.”

Mr Reudavey said children as young as five would now be forced to travel 130km a day to Dalwallinu, the next closest town with a school to Wubin.

“Having children that young travelling that far every day is not an ideal situation and we thought that may have been taken into account before the decision was made,” he said.

Isolated Childrens Parents Association (ICPA) president Karen Morrisey said she was angered by the lack of commu-nity consultation.

“Wubin Primary School has proven to be a successful school and is operating with a viable 12 students with the prospect of an increase in enrolments,” Mrs Morrissey said.

“The decision to close the school fails to consider the detrimental outcome closure would have on the students, families and the community of Wubin, a hub for the farming, pastoral and mining communities and the last stopover for tourists as they head outback.”

The Nationals WA leader Brendon Grylls has called on Education Minister Mark McGowan to reverse the decision, saying the Minister’s claim to be acting in the best interests of the students was difficult to understand.

“I fail to see how children spending longer trips on school buses and being uprooted from their community is in their best interests and I urge the Minister to listen to the Wubin community,” he said.

“When the Government is sitting on a record surplus and can pull an additional $50 million out of a hat for the Perth to Mandurah railway, then there is no reason why the Wubin Primary School should be playing second fiddle.”

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