St Mary's School closure leaves parents short of options
PARFENTS Wayne and Simone Chapman have a deep affection for Taroom's St Mary's Primary School, which is why they're saddened by news of its impending closure.
Toowoomba's Catholic Education Office last week announced that after 94 years, St Mary's would shut its doors on June 26.
There are currently only five students, from four different families, enrolled at the school.
One of them is the son of Mr and Mrs Chapman, who said St Mary's had "punched above its weight" for almost a century.
"The spirit at St Mary's and the values they try and instil have been amazing," Mr Chapman said.
"It felt like entrusting your child to the school was the right thing to do."
Despite the low number of students, the Chapmans said they were shocked when they learned St Mary's would close at the end of Term 2.
"It was completely unexpected. As recently as the end of last year we were assured the school would be open in 2015," Mrs Chapman said.
"To be sprung with this news on the first day of Term 2, and told we had 10 weeks to make new arrangements, was shocking."
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Taroom State School operates from Prep to Year 10, but the closest alternative schools for primary Catholic education are in Roma and Chinchilla.
Mr Chapman said families needed more than 10 weeks to make new plans.
"We didn't expect to have to move our son midway through his primary schooling," Mr Chapman said.
"We'd like it to stay open until the end of the year. "People need more time to make plans."
St Mary's board member Therese Hancock declined to comment on the closure at this stage, but spoke passionately about the school's role in the Taroom community.
"We really valued the opportunity of being able to send our children to a Catholic school," she said.
"St Mary's gave both our children a first-class primary education in a Christian, nurturing, supportive, disciplined and family environment."
Past student Tim Wright, who finished at St Mary's in 1990, said he "took plenty away" from his seven years at the school.
In a statement, Toowoomba Catholic Education Office executive director John Borserio said the decision was made with "careful consideration".
"There were many factors given full and careful consideration before the decision was made," he said.
St Mary's principal Bill Mulcahy was contacted by Chinchilla News, but said he was not allowed to comment.