St Mary's High School Brollagh facing closure as plans to link with Donegal schools end

Parents ask what happened to cross border dimension

Staff Reporter

Reporter:

Staff Reporter

Email:

editorial@donegaldemocrat.com

 St Mary's High School Brollagh facing closure as plans to link with Donegal schools end

St Mary's High School, Brollagh

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) is planning to close St Mary’s High School Brollagh, County Fermanagh by August 31 next year, the Donegal Democrat has learned.

But the proposal has been greeted with fury by parents who are determined to “fight tooth and nail” to make sure the school, which caters for pupils from Belleek/Garrison Derrygonnelly and Belcoo, will stay open.

“We fought before and we were successful and we will fight again,” said one irate parent.

In a letter seen by this paper, the CCMS said it had “explored the cross border options” as, advocated by former Education Minister John O’Dowd together with “other options”.

“And having reviewed the position of the school, CCMS is now consulting on the proposal to close the school with effect from August 31 2018.

“On this occasion, CCMS has decided to carry out this consultation in writing.

“Officers from CCMS will meet with stakeholders, if required.

“I can assure you that in undertaking this exercise, CCMS endeavours to ensure that the best educational interests of the children remain the focus of our attention”.

The CCMS letter added that the school, which currently has an enrolment of 84 pupils which is well below the thresholds for admittance .

It added: “The number of children attending a school is the main factor in calculating a school’s budget for the year.

“As pupil numbers decline, the school’s defecit grows.

“The school is now in a position where its defecit is now irrecoverable.”

But an angry parent strongly rejected the CCMS views.

“St Mary’s is an excellent place to be educated and it was rated 10th out of 60 Non Selected Schools in Northern Ireland for GCSE’s

‘That is an outstanding achievement by any standards but those in authority just don’t want to listen.

‘They are determined to close the school and we are equally determined to keep it open.

“A few years ago we were told that there would be a cross/border dimension to the school and that substantial funding was to be made available to the school.

“Where has that money gone? And we were told relatively nothing about this cross border dimension with schools in neighbouring Ballyshannon, Bundoran and Manorhamilton.

“We don’t believe the authorities had the will to properly examine this cross border dimension.

“And the current Education Minister Peter Weir has said this consultation was not viable.

“But this just seems more of the old DUP undoing what Sinn Féin decided.”

The parent added, “The parents have fought off challenges to our school before and we will do so again.”

In its letter the CCMS said all responses should be returned by post or e-mail by March 10.

Sensitive Issue

“This is a difficult and sensitive issue, but CCMS is confident of your co-operation in this consultation exercise.

“Ultimately, we all wish to ensure that where a change does occur, it will be in he best educational interests of the pupils attending St Mary’s High School.”

The parent added: “And we literally will go to the end of the earth to save a school that has provided excellent education in West Fermanagh since 1965”.