Lääneranna Municipal Council on Thursday postponed discussion regarding a proposal by Lääneranna municipal government involving the extensive restructuring of the municipality's school network. According to the proposal, three of the municipality's seven schools — Virtsu School, Metsküla School and Lõpe School — would be closed by fall 2022.
Of the municipality's other schools, Koonga School and Varbla School would both be converted into six-grade schools, and Kõmsi School into a four-grade school. This decision would not affect Lihula High School, ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.
The reasons given for the changes include significant running costs and shrinking numbers of students. According to Municipal Mayor Mikk Pikkmets, these changes would mean that some €300,000 in funding would be freed up for the remaining schools and that renovations of the schools in Virtsu and Lõpe costing millions could be canceled.
The municipal council did not discuss the bill, and will draw up its own proposals by October 1.
Virtsu School principal and Lääneanna Municipal Council coalition member Stanislav Nemeržitski said that the closure of these schools would mean the decline of small rural areas.
"This can indeed be argued, and there are surely examples from across Estonia of a school disappearing not automatically leading to the death of a community, but I dare say there are quite a lot of examples of the opposite," Nemeržitski said.
Pikkmets, however, said that these changes are necessary.
"If we don't make any plans or changes within the school network now, then we will have to clearly acknowledge that we will have to drop some other public functions with which the local government is tasked in order to maintain this education network," the municipal mayor said.
Editor: Aili Vahtla