DERWENT VALLEY COUNCIL
Derwent Valley Mayor Martyn Evans today expressed his dismay at the State Government’s decision to consider closing schools.
“I note from the list of schools identified in Minister McKim’s media release that the vast majority of these are in regional and rural areas.
“This is a real kick in the teeth for these areas, and a very short sighted move on the part of the State Government.
“I understand that these are tough economic times, but closing schools is a false economy. When the school is closed or downgraded, the whole community suffers, and so does the regional economy of the area”, Mayor Evans said.
Glenora District High School in the Derwent Valley has recently received $975, 000 in upgrades from the Autralian Government’s Building the Education Revolution, and is the only High School between the West Coast and New Norfolk since the closure of the High School at Ouse. The school serves students from Westerway and Maydena Primary Schools, and has a Skills Centre, Child Care facilities and an Online Access Centre attached. Many of the facilities in the school are used by the community such as the newly refurbished Multi Purpose Centre.
“Glenora, like many other regional schools, is the hub of the community, it’s a place that parents meet and talk about what’s happening, and it helps to build the fabric of the community.
“There is much currently being said about supporting regional communities; this seems to be severely lacking in this proposal.
“If years 7 – 10 close at Glenora District High what will happen to the Skills Centre there as many of the young people there will no longer be in the area.
“When areas such as this lose services, families are forced to reconsider their lives, and some are forced to move on, a drop in population leads to a drop in services, such as Police and in other communities where there are more services often health and transport services also move out of the area.
“Some parents may decide that if the High School closes it is better to send their child to Primary School in New Norfolk as well, to avoid disruption. This leaves us with a community without a school, but with another large empty building courtesy of the State Government, in our Municipality,”.
“In the long term, this may mean that fewer people choose to move to rural and regional areas, because they can not be sure that services will remain. Communities collapse, small businesses close and land prices go down, leaving people stuck with no option but to sell.
“We have seen this happen already in too many rural and regional communities.
“This is a poorly thought out, inept and blunt tool to solve an issue that should be looked at in terms of the survival of communities, not in dollar terms,” Martyn Evans said.
At a Derwent Valley Council Meeting on the 16th June, many Councillors expressed their dismay at the possible closure of the school, and have requested that the Mayor make contact with State Government Ministers to lobby on behalf of the community.