Would joining the schools work out?

Cllr Mark McKinty.
Cllr Mark McKinty.

Tell the Times what you think of the three-school amalgamation proposal.

Cllr McKinty is adamant that a falling enrolment at Ballycarry can be reversed. It presently stands at 72, having been as high as 107 in 2007-08. He also urged the board to consider that the amalgamation of Kilcoan and Mullaghdubh (102 combined enrolment for 2012/13) would be three pupils short of the 105 recommended for a rural school.

He added: “The long-overdue new build for Islandmagee, combined with a stable birth rate for that ward, would merit a school dedicated to servicing Islandmagee.

“Likewise, Ballycarry should be part of a local action plan to see the preschool established within the school grounds, and a rejuvenation of the school’s outlook would improve enrolment prospects.

“Since 2008, Ballycarry has had the second-highest birth rate per ward within the Larne Borough Council area, with more than enough prospective pupils to sustain the school, recently passing 12 per cent of all Larne Borough Council births.

“In addition, the Ballycarry and Islandmagee areas have, over recent years, seen an influx of new residents, and some work on the ground regarding these issues could see two very successful local action plans for the two separate sites.”

Cllr McKinty reminded NEELB: “Following the closure of Ballypriormore Primary School in 2003, Islandmagee should have been provided with a new school which would have serviced the Island. It is highly regrettable that, 10 years later, and despite the Department owning a plot of land, the NEELB has not seen progression of this project.”

“The two schools, for the past 10 years, have had the uncertainty of this project affect their longer-term plans.”