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Martins Creek Public School saved from closure

RELIEF: Gina Goulder said students including her son George Allingham had been treated as “collateral damage”. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.MARTINS Creek Public School has been saved from its expected closure, butmother Gina Goulder has questioned the timing of the reprieve.

Upper Hunter MPMichael Johnsen confirmed on Tuesday, a week before the end of term, thatthe government had reversed its decision to close the school of six students at the end of theyear.It will stay open to at least 2019.

“I really am gobsmacked,”Ms Goulder said.“I cannot begin to imagine this, I’ve forgotten what it’s like not to live under a cloud. A burden has been lifted.

“What a hellish two years the Department of Education and Communitieshas put us through, only to announce this at the very last minute.

“It’sa personal punishment.”

Ms Goulderattributed the government back-flip to Christian Democrat MP Paul Green and Greens MP John Kaye, whospearheaded the recent Upper House inquiry into the closure of public schools.

The inquiry made10 recommendations in October,includingthat Martins Creek be kept open to allow student Hayden, 8, who has Down syndrome and complex needs, to finish his education.

Mr Green’sbrother, now 55,had meningitis when he was a young boy and he saidhislife had been “fragile”.

“This change [the slated closure] could blow this little guy’s world apart, given the fact that he’s thriving,” Mr Green saidabout Hayden.

“I don’t think there’s been a better win in my political life than this one.”

DrKaye agreed the victory was “terrific” but saidit was a “shame that so much political effort had to go into rescuing one school”.

“This should not have been a debate in the first place,” Dr Kaye said.

“The NSW government needs to take up the advice from the inquiry to make sure all school communities everywhere, not just those able to mount a political campaign, are dealt with fairly.”

The Newcastle Heraldreported in November last year the DEC had discussed closing the school as early as 2013. Itconfirmed the planned 2015 closurein December 2014.

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