How to bush-whack school closures

Great news for the people of the Tararuas, thanks no doubt to Alf’s fierce lobbying and a general outcry of protest.

Eight rural schools in the Tararua district pegged for closure will remain open as long as the community wants them, Education Minister Anne Tolley says.

The schools were recommended for closure as part of a review of rural education initiated by the Education Ministry.

The news sent shockwaves through the district, leading to protests last week.

Mrs Tolley said yesterday that she would not close the schools if the community wanted them to stay open. “If they do not want them closed, then I will not be closing them.”

But it’s up to the community to loudly holler its objections.

The Minister is making it plain that the working group’s proposal is still up for debate and submissions don’t close until August 17.

“I urge all those involved to make their voices heard to the working group, the schools and the ministry.

“We need everyone to work together to improve education for the children in these areas.”

The “Bush Country” Community Initiated Review, involving community-elected members and a ministry-appointed facilitator, suggested the closure of eight schools, covering about 340 pupils.

Schools tagged for closure were Ballance, Hillcrest, Kumeroa-Hopelands, Makuri, Papatawa, Mangamaire, Mangatainoka and Woodville.

But Alf has been warning the Minister to be confident she knows what the community wants before she reaches a decision.

The community now must let her know what it thinks.

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