Mar 31 2010 by Judith Tonner, Airdrie & Coatbridge
Gartsherrie Primary closure
PARENTS gathering at the school gates on Gartsherrie Road last week were angry and shocked after the axe fell on the popular century-old school.
Many felt let down by councillors and said that the decision to close “the heart of the community” would become an election issue – both this year and at the next local government poll in 2012.
Heather Russell, whose son Tommy is in Primary Five, learned that the closure was set to go ahead from last week’s Advertiser and was close to tears about the prospect of the school closing in June.
She said: “I’m totally gutted and I just can’t believe it; I really thought we had a chance of saving it as everyone on the action committee has worked so hard.
“My whole family went to Gartsherrie, going back years, and it’s such a great school – my son loves it and I don’t know why they couldn’t give it a chance.
“Everyone feels the same and it’s crazy as it’s taking the heart right out of the community; I think this is going to happen with a lot of schools now and it’s a joke.”
Gartsherrie mum Nicola Beck is trying to accentuate the positive for her son, Primary One pupil Daniel, but believes it will become a negative for Labour at the ballot box.
She said: “I’m heartbroken and feel really sick for my wee boy – he’s only five and he loves his school, his teacher and all his friends.
“As with any child, we have to make this into a positive and something exciting instead of putting the idea of upset into their heads.
“I’ve told him that he’ll be going to a new school, the same one as his aunties did, and as Greenhill will be moving into the old Coatbridge High, I’ve told him that’s where Mummy went to school too.
“We’ve already had this upheaval in the area when Gartsherrie Academy closed, and I’m sick as I moved schools as a child and wanted to avoid it for my son.
“I think this will be a big issue at the general election and I’m sure it will affect people’s votes – it will certainly affect mine.”
Campaigner Audrey McFarlane agreed, saying: “We’re heartbroken and so disappointed and devastated – this is going to affect so many families.
“Our own councillors voted against us when we pay our tax to employ them to represent us, but the people had spoken and don’t want the school to close, so where is the democracy?
“It’s disgusting that they have £12 million in reserves and are wasting money on golf academies and consultants but are still shutting schools.
“We’ll make sure this affects how the public feels about our Labour council – we have an election coming up and the council poll in two years.
“This will be remembered by the families and voters of Gartsherrie because they’re killing off the community by closing the school.”
Gillian MacKinnon, who has daughters in Primary One and Primary Seven, took issue with the division of the school’s catchment area.
She said: “There’s never been any split in the community between Gartsherrie, Townhead and Greenhill, but now it means the kids will be split up.
“We knew the decision was made at the Labour group meeting the preceding Monday, which makes the whole thing a farce – it was a waste of taxpayers’ money to have two meetings pretending the decision wasn’t already made.”