Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has been criticised over her decision to close Donaghadee High School next year.
The decision was taken following a proposal by South Eastern Education and Library Board with Ms Ruane saying the school was “no longer sustainable”.
“Donaghadee High School has provided an important service to the community of Donaghadee and wider afield, but in recent years there has been a fall in numbers attending,” the Minister said. “Unfortunately the school is no longer sustainable and I must consider the best interests of the pupils currently enrolled.”
Councillors Alex Easton and Jonathan Bell expressed anger at the news.
Councillor Easton said: “There is a tangible sense of loss in this community at the loss of this Donaghadee High School. This decision is fundamentally flawed and short sighted I cannot comprehend that there is any educational benefit to be achieved by this closure.
“This decision is bad for parents the local community and most importantly of all the children. History will demonstrate just how wrong this decision by the Minister is.”
Councillor Bell, who is a Governor of Donaghadee Primary School and chairs the Donaghadee Regeneration Committee, said: “We have an Education Minister who appears in educational terms to know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Donaghadee High School consistently offered quality teaching and learning and had a well deserved reputation for pastoral care.
“This is a body blow for Donaghadee. My tribute is to the teaching and ancillary staff throughout Donaghadee High School quite frankly their excellence in educational provision merited a different decision than closure.”
Councillor Peter Weir said the decision had come as a “heavy blow not only to the staff, children and parents of Donaghadee High |but also to the wider community in Donaghadee”.
“The decision to close the school is one that has not been thought through in a way that I would have expected from a government department,” Mr Weir said.
He also criticised “the decision to rip the heart out of a local community by closing its school, a school that provides a much needed service to Donaghadee and the surrounding area.
“Donaghadee High School is a school that is run in a professional manner that provides a safe and happy teaching environment for its pupils, the decision to close it is questionable to say the least”.
Donaghadee High School is to close with effect from August 31, 2009.