AN EDUCATION era lasting 139 years has officially ended with the closure this week of Tantanoola Primary School.
The decision was made by Education Minister John Gardner and comes after his ministerial review committee completed an extensive review of present and future requirements of primary education in the Tantanoola area, with a majority voting by a seventhree margin to close the school.
The Education Department had earlier suspended the service of the school for 2020 due to there being only one student enrolled at the beginning of the school year.
The closure announcement was regretted by Tantanoola community stalwart Arvan Carthew.
She has lived in the town since her marriage in 1960 and Tantanoola Primary School was attended by her husband Bruce, their two daughters and three grandsons.
Ms Carthew said the minister’s decision was not surprising.
“There are not many children in Tantanoola nowadays,” Ms Carthew said.
“I was on the school welfare club and on the committee which organised the first gala day (in 1970).
“I wonder what will become of the time capsule which was buried when we celebrated the centenary of the school in 1979?
“When we buried the time capsule, no one ever thought the school would close.”
Mr Gardner said close consideration was given to the impact of the closure of Tantanoola Primary School.
“This closure decision was not made lightly and every aspect of the school closure was considered seriously by the review committee,” Mr Gardner said.
“The committee heard from local families and community members to find out what really matters to them when it comes to delivering education and supporting young people in the region.
“We will continue to support young families living in Tantanoola so that local children have access to high quality education when they are ready to attend school.
“Millicent has two fantastic government primary schools, one government high school and St Anthony’s Catholic School that will provide excellent learning opportunities for families.
The Education Department will now assist regional education director Dr Ruth Schubert to formally close the school in accordance with departmental procedures.
Former principal Lesley Okholm – who led the school in the last half of 2019 – said she was saddened to hear of its closure.
“Tantanoola Primary School was a really happy school with terrific students and staff, brilliant parents and it is sad to hear that it will not be continuing,” Ms Okholm said.