Diocese reverses decision on closing flood-damaged school

St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Woodburn has been closed since the floods.

Susanna Freymark

“When can we go back?”– a mother said her daughter keeps asking when she can return to school.

The mother was speaking at the community meeting in June about reopening St Joseph’s Primary School in Woodburn that was flooded in February last year.

The meeting was held at the temporary school site in Evans Head. There, Lismore Catholic Schools director Adam Spencer made it clear the Woodburn school would not re-open.

St Joseph’s during the floods in 2022. Photo: Contributed

Since that meeting, a letter has been sent to parents from the Diocese of Lismore Catholic Schools Board.

The letter informs parents that the Board has re-considered its decision to not to return the school to Woodburn.

The letter said:

“While the decision to ultimately relocate the school still remains, the Board of Directors has decided to return the school to its Woodburn site as the existing site in Evans Head continues to present challenges and limitations and further investment in infrastructure and facilities on the Evans Head site is problematic.”

The Catholic Schools Office is investigating the best way to refurbish the school site at Woodburn.

The Office will look at ways to mitigate the risk and impact of future flooding.

“We will have a clearer understanding of time frames once this work is completed.”

“By its nature, the Northern Rivers region is prone to flooding. As much as we hope this will not occur, we also understand the school will likely be impacted again in the future.

The classrooms at St Joseph’s Primary School were damaged in the floods. Photo: Contributed

The Catholic Schools Office has not ruled out the relocation of the school to a flood-free site in the future.

For students and their families the reopening of the school is good news.

And it is a boost to the village of Woodburn that still does not have its supermarket and service station back since the flooding.

School Infrastructure NSW plans to begin rebuilding Broadwater Public School early next year. The flooded school rebuild is currently in planning.

Broadwater School students have been going to classes at Evans River K-12 in Evans Head until their school is rebuilt.

A vision of what Broadwater School rebuild could look like. Photo: NSW School Infrastructure

Read about the June school meeting where parents were told the school would not re-open.

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