Governors at Monkstown Community School have called for a swift decision on plans for the merger with Newtownabbey Community High.
The North Eastern Education and Library Board has submitted proposals to Education Minister John O’Dowd for the amalgamation of the two schools to form a new post-primary school at the existing Monkstown site.
While governors at both schools are keen on the merger plan, there has been disagreement about the best location for the new school, with some arguing that it should be at the NCHS site in Rathcoole.
More than 80 parents joined staff and governors at Monkstown Community School last week to discuss the issue and hear an update on plans for the new school, which will cater for young people aged 11 – 19 years. Among those who attended were local politicians Sammy Wilson MP and Roy Beggs MLA.
Welcoming the large turnout at the meeting, principal Nigel Pell-Ilderton said: “Although the development proposals have recommended that the new school be located on the Monkstown site, parents were advised that the final decision will be taken by the Minister when the two-month consultation period concludes on December 17.
“Parents were encouraged to participate in this process and to make their own submissions to the Department of Education.”
Richard McChesney, chair of Governors at Monkstown, reiterated the Board’s support for the proposals and stressed the need for a swift decision from the Minister.
Voicing his support for the NEELB’s plans, Progressive Unionist Party representative for the Monkstown area, Darren Logan said: “I hope the Minister can give the go-ahead for the proposed merger at his earliest possible convenience.
“It is an opportunity to enable the young people of Newtownabbey to avail of a modern, fit-for-purpose school that can help address the issue of educational under achievement amongst the loyalist working class community.”
He added: “The NEELB has a duty of care to make sure that all available funds are made available to support the new school in any transitional process.”
Mr Logan also called on the Department of Education to work with trade unions to minimise any potential job losses in terms of teachers or support staff.
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