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School’s out at Tuturumuri – this time for good

Tuturumuri principal Alistair Morrison. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM.

97-year history will be celebrated

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After years of fighting to stay open, Tuturumuri School will close at the end of this year.

The small rural school, 30 minutes from Martinborough, began the year with seven pupils – it now has just two.

The Education Ministry informed the school last Wednesday it was initiating the closure, principal Alistair Morrison said on Wednesday.

He said school authorities had the option of a lengthy closure period and had asked the community for their thoughts on Thursday.

But on Sunday, the school’s board decided there was nothing new to add to the process and waived its right to an eight-to-nine-week consultation process.

“The board put up such an amazing fight last time and they put every fact on the table really and there was nothing left for us to repeat.”

The families of the two pupils will choose where to send them and the ministry would provide support to the families, pupils, and the schools they moved to.

Morrison, another teacher, a teacher aide, and a cleaner at the school would all have to find new jobs.

“It’s very sad for everyone involved,” Morrison said.

“Largely, I think the community is accepting. There’s a few people who are still happy to fight on but it’s a sad situation for everyone.”

There was ongoing structural changes in rural New Zealand at the moment which was driving changes to smaller schools.

While the ministry had recognised that the Tuturumuri and Tora communities had put much effort into supporting the school to increase its roll over the past two years, this did not result in a sustained increase in enrolments, its deputy secretary sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said.

“The decision to close a school is never an easy one, but on November 5, we agreed to undertake consultation on the potential closure of Tuturumuri School.

“This consultation is with the board of trustees of Tuturumuri School and neighbouring schools whose rolls may be impacted by the potential closure.”

When the ministry’s processes finish, the school buildings will be transferred to Land Information New Zealand.

The school faced an uncertain future at the end of 2017 when its roll dropped to zero after the bus route was cut.

A steering committee was set up to find ways and means for the school to stay open and a low-cost subdivision was planned to help increase the number of families in the district.

In September last year, it looked like the school would be saved after Education Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed the government had ditched plans to close it, after strong community support for it to continue.

A Tuturumuri School send-off is planned for December 1 from 11am-2pm to celebrate its 97-year history.

Former pupils, teachers, and community members are invited, and the afternoon will wrap up with the planting of totara trees.

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