CWMCARN High School pupils will remain together for this academic year at least – after Caerphilly councillors agreed a £1.4 million relocation to Ebbw Vale.
All 937 students will journey about 15 miles to the former Coleg Gwent campus from November 5 after councillors unanimously agreed to the proposal.
However, the long-term future of the school is still unclear, following the discovery of asbestos there nearly two weeks ago.
An emergency meeting of Caerphilly council last night resolved the short-term future. But, asked about provisions for 2013-14, corporate director Sandra Aspinall said this will become clearer in the next fewmonths.
She said: “We will look at the work needed once the school is vacated and assess what needs to be done before determining how we move forward.”
Hundreds of parents packed the council chamber, with Ms Aspinall outlining four options for the rest of this academic year.
Three would have seen pupils either transferred to other schools or taught in temporary units at Cwmcarn, which would have led to redundancies, new teachers for youngsters and classrooms split.
She recommended the move to Ebbw Vale, saying it was the preferred option to “keep the school community together”.
Many youngsters now face a one-hour journey morning and afternoon, with Caerphilly councillors agreeing the authority should fund the £1,420,000 cost of re-commissioning the Ebbw Vale site, running costs and transport.
This will be met from an under-spend of £400,000 in the home-to-school transport budget, £200,000 from a schools contingency fund and £820,000 from general fund balances.
Cabinet member for education Rhianon Passmore called the situation “unprecedented”, paying tribute to the parents, pupils and staff, for the way they’ve dealt with the situation.
Members of all parties agreed the move, with parents delighted. Ann-Marie Croker has two children at Cwmcarn, which she called “an amazing school”, adding: “We want to keep the school community together”.
Emma Verrier agreed, adding: “It’s all about getting them back on the Cwmcarn site long-term.” PANEL We need to know risks say Lib Dems LIBERAL Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said she was “not surprised to see such a large number of schools having asbestos in their buildings”
after the Argus found that nearly 200 schools in Gwent have the hazardous building material.
Welsh education minister Leighton Andrews said last week that every local authority was to be asked for information on asbestos in schools.
“We need to know from the Welsh Government that it is to carry out a comprehensive register on the levels of risk associated with that asbestos and then a plan for dealing with it. That’s not what we’ve got from the government,”