Cllr Naomi Long has welcomed the decision of the Commissioners to hear the deputations from the four schools which have been proposed for closure in the Board area. But she expressed concern about the apparent lack of openness and accountability of the decision-making process, particularly in such sensitive matters as school closures.
Cllr Naomi Long, Alliance Deputy Leader, said: “We have real reservations about the lack of accountability to the public on such issues following suspension of the Board. As elected members no longer having any role in decision-making and meetings are not being held in public as would have previously been the case, the public’s ability to scrutinise decisions
is severely limited. We have expressed strong concerns about this to the
Board, particularly in such sensitive matters as school closures.
“We hope that the Commissioners’ decision to hear deputations on the critical matter of these proposed school closures is a positive signal about future workings of the Board whilst the Commissioners remain in charge, not only in terms of school closures but on other important issues such as funding for special needs and classroom assistants.”
Cllr Michael Long continued: “At the meeting we will be putting forward a strong case for the retention of Lisnasharragh High School. The timing of the decision to close the school is premature before the Bain Review publishes its findings and before the amalgamation of the Boards, especially as the school lies so close to the boundary with the Belfast
“The school provides an exceptional service to the local community and its
care for the large number of those with special needs or who have experienced bullying elsewhere is well renowned.
“The school also has the highest proportion of children from deprived backgrounds in the whole of South and East Belfast, according to the free school meals measure, and the best way to address this level of disadvantage would be to allow this school to continue to provide good quality education.”