PARENTS and students at Parkwood Secondary College have been left with the difficult decision of finding new places to learn after the school confirmed it will close at the end of the year.
In a letter sent to parents and caregivers last week, principal Barbara Laidlaw confirmed she had received the necessary approval from Education Minister Martin Dixon to close the Ringwood North school on December 31.
The Weekly spoke to parents and students late last week as they came to terms with the news. Many will now face longer commutes to and from school and friendship groups they've had for years will be torn apart.
Ringwood North's Michelle Black, whose son Luke is in year 9, said he would be moving to Maroondah Secondary College next year, but "of his five or six good friends, only one of them is moving schools with him".
"All the emails and letters from the school were very last-minute. It seemed as if they would agree to something and then inform us after a decision had been made," Mrs Black said.
Another parent, Lisa Lacy of Croydon North, whose daughter Brooklynne is in year 7, said she was shocked by the announcement.
"There was nothing even mentioned about the possibility of the school closing at last year's transition evening. We weren't really told of the goings-on until a decision had been made," she said.
"We'll have to move her to Warrandyte, which is a lot further out of the way. This means I can no longer drive her to school and will have to pay for public transport every day. Not only that, but I miss out on chatting to my daughter every morning and afternoon in the car, which is a shame."
Low enrolments have been blamed for the decision. A meeting of parents and the school council was held on August 7 with an overwhelming vote in favour of keeping the school open.
Ms Laidlaw said the school held assemblies last week for students to ask questions and give suggestions for celebrations to honour the school. She said teachers were also offered help to be placed into new schools in Maroondah.
While the news ended the uncertainty, she said it was having an emotional impact on students, particularly those who had been at the school the longest. Year 12 students would be eligible for special consideration from the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority.
Parents are advised to return enrolment preference forms to track which schools children move to. This will be used to determine one-off payments for families to help with the costs of enrolling at a new school. "It will be the same amount for each student. I don't have an exact dollar amount," Ms Laidlaw said.
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