Tuturumuri School no longer has any pupils but the community is holding on to hope. PHOTO/FILE

CHELSEA BOYLE

chelsea.boyle@age.co.nz

There might not be any pupils left at Tuturumuri School but its doors remain open.

With money in the kitty to last another two terms, the chairman of the school’s board of trustees says they would be ready to teach tomorrow if needed.

The rural school has a lot to offer, with iPads on hand in the classroom and a heated indoor swimming pool on site.

The community raises $10,00-$20,00 every year to get behind it.

The school’s board of trustees chairman Mike Firth said everyone in the community wanted to see the school stay open.

“It’s a massive part of the community . . . we do a lot of fundraising to fund what we do there,” he said.

“Everything is well-resourced. We have everything going for us.”

Everyone who had been a pupil at the school had achieved well and gone well at university and things like that, he said.

The community loved getting together at the fundraisers and loved what the school offered kids.

“They love the fact it’s a school where you can have an 11-year-old kid and a five-year-old kid play together,” Mr Firth said.

“They all look after each other like a community. It brings people together.”

The last family to leave only did so because there were no other kids for their children to play with, he said.

“They didn’t want to leave. They would come back if other kids came to the school.”

Part of the problem in struggling to fill seats was falling into a bit of a “lull” between generations.

The numbers could fluctuate quite a bit, he said.

But there was potential for more families to come into the area.

“There are two houses for sale at the moment . . . and another farm in the district – that might bring in three families maybe”.

Another family had already bought a section but still had to build before they could settle down.

One of the problems discussed at community meetings was how make it work for families with parents who work in town.

“It’s the way the world is now, wives work, they don’t stay home anymore,” Mr Firth said.

They worked in town and to able to do that, they needed home childcare or take their children into town with them, he said.

There was a push at the community meeting to get an afterschool childcare facility at the school, he said.

“That would be well supported.

“It would also create a job for maybe another parent.”

The school was an important asset for the rugged and isolated area with parts of it almost an hour away from Martinborough by road, he said.

To attend another school the children would have to leave at 7.30 in the morning and would only get back at about 4.30 in the afternoon, he said.

“For a five-year-old that’s a pretty big day.”

Such a long daily bus ride would also result in a “massive cost” to the Education Ministry.