Student enrolments have been impacted by the impasse at the Korumburra Secondary College.

FOR months and months, the Korumburra Secondary College Council has been pleading with the Regional Office of the Department of Education to step in and deal with a problem that has damaged the school and the local community. Belatedly, it now appears ready to do so, according to president of the council, Glenn McNabb. Mr McNabb met with the Regional Director of Education, Karen Cain, last Friday and was given an undertaking that an announcement will be made about the college’s future, to the college community, before the end of the 2012 school year. This was a not negotiable position put to the Regional Office by the council. Late yesterday the Education department provided its response as follows: “The principal at Korumburra Secondary College is on leave, and the Department has, with the support of the school council, appointed Terry Harrington as acting principal for the beginning of 2013.” Whether this announcement will be added to is unknown. However, on the eve of what Mr McNabb expected to be a key announcement for the college, its students, their parents and the staff; frustration over an apparent lack of action on the issue has boiled over. This week the Sentinel-Times has been presented with a dossier of ‘facts’ about the college, its falling enrolments, issues involving named individuals at the college and also claims about low staff morale; by a group of ‘Concerned Parents of the Korumburra Secondary College’. The evidence, they say, is overwhelming. “There is no one in the community who would say that the school is in a better state than four years ago… this is costing our community.” The group claimed that while 30 staff members signed a grievance petition about the problems, the Regional Office had taken several months to respond. “Basically they blamed the staff and did not contact any of the contacts provided.” The group claims that several staff members have resigned over the problems and that the issue has been left to fester by the Department. The result they say is a lack of confidence in the school in some areas, resulting in falling enrolments, down from 565 in 2010 to an expected 450 in 2013. “Over a period of almost four years we have tried everything to stop our school deteriorating; however we have been given no support from further up the education chain. “The Korumburra Secondary College is now no longer the school that it was. Everybody in our community knows it but the staff will say nothing as they are concerned about their jobs. And fair enough. “Anyone who has stood up to what has happened has either lost their job or has had to live in a horrible workplace.” But Mr McNabb has urged restraint until a Regional Office sanctioned announcement can be made in the next few weeks. While not wanting to be quoted, Mr McNabb conceded his own frustrations with the Education Department’s bureaucratic processes but also noted that there were industrial issues within the school over which the council had no control. He said that the situation at the college had “settled down” appreciably in recent months and this should be allowed to continue. There is little doubt, however, that the issues, perceived or otherwise, have impacted the college’s reputation and the town generally. President of the Korumburra Business Association, David Amor, is empathetic. “I don’t have any kids at the college anymore so I’m not up with the issues but it does concern me. “It’s definitely worrying if families themselves and the mums and dads in Korumburra and district are disappointed with how the school is being run. “It hurts Korumburra. It’s just the same as when people lose confidence with a local retailer and start shopping elsewhere to get better quality and service. We don’t want local families to feel like they have to put their kids in other schools. “Like every town we need to have an active school here in Korumburra that can help ensure there are families here and the population keeps growing.” Mr Amor said he hoped the matter could be sorted out before the kids returned to the college next year.