St James’ Primary School in Mullaghbrack has been given a stay of execution with the announcement of another year.
SDLP Representatives have welcomed an one year extension to the closure order, however they have also expressed their continued support to the Save St James School Campaign.
Newry and Armagh Assembly Member Justin McNulty said: “The Mullaghbrack community were thrown into turmoil when the new Education Minister announced his decision to close the school from August this year.
“A number of urgent meetings and conversations has since taken place with parents, Board of Governors, school staff, the CCMS and a meeting with Minister Weir himself. A very strong case was put forward to save St James PS but the Minister made it very clear that his decision is legally binding and final on this matter.
“He did however indicate that he shared our concerns about the timing of the announcement which initiated talks for an extension.
“The CCMS have now confirmed that a one year extension has been granted to allow parents, the children and staff of St James’ time to make necessary arrangements.
“We welcome the one year extension to the closing order, however the SDLP remains committed to supporting the Board of Governors, parents and staff in exploring all opportunities to save the school.
“I congratulate all those involved in the campaign thus far, and I urge the wider community to continue their strong support for the school over the coming year.”
SDLP Councillor Sharon Haughey-Grimley also welcomed the extension but expressed her sadness at the Minister’s decision.
Cllr Haughey said: “Over the years Mullaghbrack Board of Governors, parents, staff and friends have mounted an intensive and strong campaign to save their school. Their efforts have been exceptional. Their pride in their community and their school is clear to be seen and the Minister’s decision is absolutely devastating.
“It is with deep sadness that St James PS is now confirmed to close in September 2017.
“Although I very much welcome the 1 year extension, I share in the frustration of the local school community that closure is still hanging over them. In the days and weeks to come, every possibility to save the school will be explored and followed up on.
“This one year extension will also give time to prepare the children for the changes that are ahead and for the Mullaghbrack community and parents to decide on the best options for the future, both for their children and also for the community of Mullaghbrack. I commend everyone for their efforts over the years, and not least the mountain of work that was done over the past week to secure this extension.”
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