Cabramurra Public School will not close even though plans to remove the town’s permanent workforce remain in place, the NSW Department of Education have confirmed.
Albury-based NSW Department of Education Director, Brad Russell, said that the school would remain open as long as there were students who needed it.
“The school was never going to close, and there is no intention to close the school,” he said.
“Snowy Hydro don’t operate the school, the Department of Education operates the school. That will be the case as long as we have students there. Our students come from Cabramurra, and there are students from Mt Selwyn as well.”
Cabramurra Public School is a unique case compared to many other small communities in NSW, because of its alpine location. In fact, it’s one of the most remote schools in NSW.
When deciding whether or not they have a duty to provide facilities, the Department of Education takes into account how viable it would be for kids to attend another school in the region. For families living high up in the mountains, where heavy snowfall can block them off from the rest of the world and skis can be a practical form of transportation, getting an education isn’t as simple as commuting to a larger town like Tumbarumba or Cooma.
A Department of Education spokesperson said that this was unlikely to change, no matter what Snowy Hydro decides to do with the town it owns.
“Based on current projections of enrolments, Cabramurra Public School will remain operational into the foreseeable future,” they said.
Snowy Hydro have not indicated that they intend to change their decision to move Cabramurra to an entirely drive-in drive-out operation. Families have until January to move to a different location, such as Cooma or Adaminaby, and the workforce will commute to and from the alpine town for four-day working weeks.
This is despite the fact that there are an estimated 5000 new jobs coming to the region, if the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project goes ahead.
Cabramurra is Australia’s highest town with an altitude of 1,488 metres. It is entirely populated by Snowy Hydro employees and their families. There are no private homes or overnight accommodations for tourists and non-Snowy Hydro residents have not been allowed to live there.
The town was constructed in the fifties to house Snowy Scheme employees and has served that purpose ever since. At the height of the Scheme it had over 2000 permanent residents, but at last census count there were only 37 people living there full-time.