School merger pushes ahead with no building.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

THREE primary schools in Mourne are set to be amalgamated next year but uncertainty surrounds where the new school will be based.

The Catholic Maintained schools of Moneydarragh PS, St Joseph's PS Ballymartin and St Mary's PS Glasdrumman will merge in September 2018 under the working name of Lower Mourne Amalgamated (Primary School).

Enrolments were found to be insufficient to justify all three continuing on a stand-alone basis and the plan is to create one school for the parish of Lower Mourne.

In a public notice published in this paper, the Interim Board of Governors says the new school may be based from one or more of the current buildings.

"At this point there are arrangements being made for operating the new amalgamated school on one or more of the current school sites and until a final decision has been made, we are unable to have an open day at present. We will provide updates as work progresses.

"Work to progress the new school build is continuing alongside the amalgamation.

A new school will provide a state-of-the-art modern environment that will meet the demands of the modern curriculum and provide the best educational experience for the children, parents and wider community of Lower Mourne." The interim board underscores the need for parents in the area to rally behind the amalgamation project.

"The support of parents existing and new is essential and very much appreciated." Parents of prospective P1 children and any new families who wish to enrol their children in the new amalgamated school for September 2018 are asked to apply by 10 January.

Education Minister John O'Dowd approved the amalgamation back in September 2014.

The promise at the time was to amalgamate the school on a new site and a new building to accommodate up to 205 pupils.

"The location of the school will be determined as part of the economic appraisal process," a Department of Education spokesman said at the time.

Commenting on the decision, Mr O'Dowd said: "This proposal aims to consolidate and deliver more sustainable Catholic maintained primary provision for children in the Lower Mourne area of Co Down in the long term. Having considered all of the available evidence, I am satisfied that approval of the amalgamation is the best way forward."


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