City schools talk merger

BROOKS High School and Rocherlea and Mayfield primary schools are discussing possible amalgamation.

A group of 10 parents and school representatives and the Education Department met at the Rocherlea school  yesterday to discuss options.

One option being discussed included the Rocherlea site becoming a middle school for years 7 and 8 and all primary pupils moving to Mayfield.

An amalgamation between the three, which are already part of the East Tamar federation, would be the first among city schools since the state government announced its closure hit-list of 20 in the 2011 budget. 

None of the three schools were on the original hit-list.

They are among a string of  schools to say they are considering taking advantage of the government's $3.5 million School Transition Fund, following Wesley Vale and Moriarty primary schools on Monday and Meander Primary School last week.

Mayfield Primary School Association co-chairman Phil Dean said that the school principals had called the first meeting months ago as enrolments at both primary schools declined and Brooks continued to grow.

He said by tackling the issue themselves, the schools retained some control over their future.

``Nothing has been set in concrete at the moment,'' Mr Dean said.

``What we'll find out now is if parents like it or not and we'll go from there.

``At the end of the day, this is a decision about the educational opportunities of our kids and what can be offered to them.

``If the school numbers continue to shrink, teachers will go and so will access to different activities.''

He said that if the two primary schools did not do something, they might eventually be forced to close or merge with no funding available to help.

Brooks principal Shireen Thomas said talks were going well.

Mrs Thomas said Brooks had been built for 400 students 20 years ago but now had more than 600, and as the high school for four feeder primary schools, it expected to grow further.

Amanda Nicholas, of Invermay, a parent of both a Rocherlea pupil and Brooks student, said other options being discussed included sharing spaces, teaching resources and developing a kindergarten-to-10 school.

``Because this is an issue of importance, we need to go through the process to make the correct decision for each of our kids, so it's really important we get it right,'' Mrs Nicholas said.

School associations are expected to hold meetings soon to update parents.