AFTER 96 years, Torrumbarry’s only school will shut its doors forever next month.
Welton Primary School council unanimously voted in favour of the heart-wrenching decision at a meeting on July 27, citing rapidly declining enrolments as a key reason for the closure.
The school has long been an integral part of community life for families in Torrumbarry, Patho and Wharparilla, but in the past decade student numbers have dropped drastically.
In 2008, Welton boasted 44 students, but this had shrunk to just nine this year.
The situation was made even more dire with no new students signing up for next year.
Principal Lisa Duffy said discussions around the viability of the school started in 2014.
It culminated in a wide-ranging review last year which, Ms Duffy said, showed students wanted more friends and classmates.
‘‘The school employed many strategies to attract new students, including running a community playgroup, putting advertisements in the local paper, distributing school flyers to the broader local community and promoting the school via Facebook and our own website,’’ Ms Duffy said.
‘‘Due to our low student numbers in 2017, and no news of any enrolments for 2018, discussions were held with each individual family about the future of Welton and the best options for our children.
‘‘Care and time was taken to ensure all points of view were considered.’’
The closure will also affect three staff members who will be required to apply for new positions as advertised.
In a letter to parents, Ms Duffy said it was a ‘‘highly emotional time’’ for families, students and staff, adding there was ‘‘a lot of misinformation’’ being circulated.
‘‘We ask the wider community respect and support our decision and trust that those of us who are closest to the school have the greatest insights into what is best for our students,’’ she said.
The final day of school will be September 22.
Ms Duffy said closing at the end of Term 3 was best for the students to allow them to transition to their new schools.
Welton staff are now supporting affected families with financial costs, such as purchasing new uniforms for new schools.
It will begin a transition process in the coming weeks, with students given the opportunity to meet with students and staff at their new schools.
Ms Duffy said its main focus during the next eight weeks was to ensure students remained happy, resilient and comfortable with the changes to their school.