Primary school may close after 120 years

St Joseph’s School in Magnetic St, Port Chalmers, may soon close due to low roll numbers. PHOTO:...
St Joseph’s School in Magnetic St, Port Chalmers, may soon close due to low roll numbers. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
A small Port Chalmers school may close after more than 120 years.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Dunedin, the Most Rev Michael Dooley has written to the Ministry of Education asking for a consultation process to be initiated regarding the future of the state-integrated St Joseph’s School, with the possibility that it may close.

That process began this week and involves the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin and the ministry undertaking consultation with the board of trustees, the school and parish community, and the wider community.

"The St Joseph’s School at Port Chalmers is an excellent school but unfortunately has been struggling with a low roll for a number of years," Bishop Dooley said.

The school has seven pupils on its roll.

Once the consultation process was completed, the Minister of Education would make a decision about the school’s future.

Principal Tom Woodhouse declined to comment on the situation.

A post on the school’s Facebook page said the consultation process would run until October 29.

"This is a very sad and tough time for the children and their families, the staff and the board."

The school was opened in 1898, after Mother Mary MacKillop and two Josephite Sisters arrived in Dunedin at the request of Fr McMullen, the parish priest of Port Chalmers, according to the school’s website.

On arrival they found the old school, then called St Mary’s School, to be less than adequate.

The sisters repaired the building and the new school, St Joseph’s Primary School, was opened at the end of January that year.

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