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Colmon School closure ‘blindsides’ parents, students

Shocked dad and mom met with the college’s principal on Thursday morning.

Rachel Bowcott, a guardian who additionally works because the principal’s assistant, mentioned the “heartbreaking” scenario left households in disbelief.

Rakesh and Cherry Puri have to find a new school, or schools, for their two children who are in years 5 and 8 at Colmont School in Kilmore.

Rakesh and Cherry Puri need to discover a new college, or colleges, for his or her two kids who’re in years 5 and eight at Colmont Faculty in Kilmore.Credit score:Adam Carey

“It’s an amazing college, it’s an exquisite group. The youngsters, they’re completely devastated,” she mentioned.

Amongst these in search of solutions on the college gate on Thursday have been Rakesh and Cherry Puri, who’ve two kids at Colmont.

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The Puris uprooted their lives so their kids might attend Colmont and examine the Worldwide Baccalaureate. They moved to Craigieburn, and Rakesh stop his job in a financial institution to begin a enterprise close to the college.

“(We’re) completely devastated, I don’t know what to do,” he mentioned.

“We don’t know the place we’re going to ship our youngsters for the remainder of this yr, not to mention subsequent yr.”

He mentioned the college board’s communication to households, giving them simply two days’ discover, had been “completely garbage”.

Ian Grant, one other of the directors, mentioned the college “skilled monetary difficulties on account of the lower in worldwide college students in the course of the interval of COVID-19”.

“The varsity was operating out of funds and sought extra funding from the Commonwealth and the state authorities in addition to finance from varied banking establishments and personal lenders,” he mentioned.

“As extra funding or lending was not forthcoming, the board of administrators couldn’t proceed as a result of the college was bancrupt, or more likely to grow to be bancrupt.”

By e-mail, the directors advised dad and mom courses for yr 11 and 12 college students would proceed till various colleges may very well be discovered for them, however youthful college students would wish to discover a new college from Friday, and employees can be employed till 5pm Tuesday.

Kilmore has a big Catholic secondary college, Assumption School, however the closest state secondary colleges are at Wallan and Broadford.

New signage and a new name couldn’t save Colmont School.

New signage and a brand new identify couldn’t save Colmont Faculty.Credit score:Adam Carey

The Division of Schooling mentioned assist can be offered to displaced college students and their households.

“Each Victorian baby has the fitting to enrol at their designated native authorities college, or at one other authorities college of their alternative offered it has enough area to accommodate them,” it mentioned.

Assumption School principal Kate Fogarty wrote to Colmont households on Thursday providing to waive enrolment charges at her college.

Cheryl Abela has a daughter in yr 10 on the college who has been there since grade 3, however now has no thought the place to ship her, and fears she’ll need to withdraw from the Worldwide Baccalaureate.

“I simply spoke to my daughter. She mentioned her yr degree have been all simply sitting right here crying. Some academics are simply discovering out this morning, and it’s that a lot of a shock,” Abela mentioned.

“I really really feel blindsided. I don’t perceive why, if it was so dire, there wasn’t extra transparency. The children really feel blindsided.”

One other Colmont guardian, Steve Waterson, mentioned the college’s communication was chaotic, citing a hasty assembly with directors known as Wednesday night time that he, and lots of different dad and mom, weren’t knowledgeable of.

“I came upon by different dad and mom final night time, most likely at about 8-8.30pm,” he mentioned. “So now we’ve bought to discover a location for my daughter [to go to school]. Horrified.”

“The one factor I can do is attempt to get my daughter into Assumption School, which I’ve already been by this morning. My son goes there so I’m hoping that helps.”

Assumption had put an indication out the entrance of the college welcoming Colmont dad and mom in for a espresso, Waterson mentioned.

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Based on the most recent official statistics, greater than half of Colmont’s college students didn’t communicate English as their first language. Worldwide schooling agent Sonny Zhang mentioned he had positioned Chinese language college students on the college, and understood it had about 60 to 70 worldwide college students earlier than the pandemic, all of them paying “fairly excessive” tuition charges. However he thought these numbers had plummeted up to now two years.

The varsity leased its grounds and even paid a payment for its former identify. It’s understood it modified its identify to Colmont final month to save cash.

Unbiased Faculties Victoria chief Michelle Inexperienced mentioned the college’s efforts to safe short-term monetary assist failed.

Mitchell Shire Mayor Invoice Chisholm mentioned: “for lots of people, it is a actual catastrophe”.

Deb James, of the Unbiased Schooling Union, mentioned the closure was a shock.

Too many children will likely be trying to find a spot to proceed their education on Monday, and too many employees members will likely be searching for new jobs – not a simple job in a regional space,” she mentioned.

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