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Unwarranted school closure

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 Contents - Dec 2003AD2000 December 2003 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: The challenge of Christmas - Peter Westmore
John Paul II's 25th anniversary: the impact of his teachings - Cardinal George Pell
News: The Church Around the World
INTERVIEW: New Melbourne and Sydney Religious Education texts - Msgr Peter Elliott
VOCATIONS: Melbourne's 'Hearts on Fire' vocations congress a success - Fr Paul Stuart
EVENTS: Adore 2004: a Eucharistic Congress for youth
BOOKS: DANIEL MANNIX : Wit and Wisdom - new edition - Michael Gilchrist
Social Justice Statement 2003: a response from Bishop Saunders
Letters: Social Justice Statement - Michael Barr
Letters: Centrality of tabernacle - Marie Cassey
Letters: Common sense - Michael Barry
Letters: Inspiring article - Thomas Jones
Poetry: Ex Maria Virgine - Delia Craig
Letters: Voice of the Faithful - St Michael's Group
Letters: Heresies - John K. Hannon
Letters: Unwarranted school closure - Maurice McGrath
Letters: Men at church - Rosanne Turne
Letters: Perth homeschooling conference - Lorraine Haydon
Books: Confirmed in the Faith, by Dora Nash - Joanna Bogle (reviewer)
Books: Adventures in Orthodoxy, by Dwight Longenecker - Richard Egan (reviewer)
Books: Celibacy in the Early Church, by Stefan Heid - Fr Peter Murphy (reviewer)
Books: You Are Peter, by Olivier Clément - Peter Westmore (reviewer)
Books: Socrates meets Machiavelli, Socrates meets Marx, by Peter Kreeft - Bill Muehlenberg (reviewer)
Books: AD Books - Top Ten Sellers in 2003
Books: AD Books - A happy and a holy Christmas!
Reflection: 'Jesus Christ: the door of our salvation' : the meaning of Christmas - Pope John Paul II

Parents, students and staff of a Catholic secondary school, McAuley College, have been shocked by an announcement of its proposod closure at the end of this year.

The College at Dooboobetic, a district of Northern Victoria services the surrounding towns of Donald, Charlton, St Arnaud, Wycheproof and Wedderburn.

lt is trading in credit, and only faces a possible deficit next year if numbers are short. The effects of the drought would have had some effect. The announcement of closure "because of declining numbers" was in many people's eyes, calculated to give little warning and little opportunity to reverse the decision.

The announcement of "recommendation by the board to close the College" was given to the students in a letter to take home.

An enthusiastic group of supporters, in just three days, managed to produce the extra enrolments needed - provided, of course, it was agreed that the college would definitely open. Instead, the decision was not reversed, mainly because of the two local priests' reluctance to even entertain the thought of running at a deficit for just one year.

The following year 2005 would see a large group of primary shool students ready to enter secondary level. Bishop Connors, on Friday 24 October, "accepted the board's decision" and a letter confirming closure was given to the students as they departed from the College that night.

Letters referred to "all possible avenues being thoroughly investigated", which sounds good, but in effect did not happen. For instance, the Principal of the local TAFE would have been prepared to assist (McAuley paid them $84,000 last year) yet he assured me that they were never approached. A simple deferment of just one of the two last payments due, to completely pay off the original loan for the buildings would have easily solved the problem, if numbers were still short by next year's commencement date.

Instead, no warning was given to enable supporters to assist, before the announcement to close was made to students and on local television. I believe the financial position was far better than the parish priest's letter indicated; certainly a decent manager would have traded in the red for one year, with 2005 a bumper year following.

After years of paying it off, we are now faced with an empty college in a rural setting, and nowhere for our children to receive a Catholic education, within 70 km in any direction.

It is disappointing to note that our parish priest has not once urged or even encouraged parents to send their children to the College, to my knowledge, in the last five years and I attend Mass regularly

St Arnaud, Vic

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 16 No 11 (December 2003 - January 2004), p. 15

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