Lääneranna municipality remains firm on schools closure

Metsküla School when it was visited by ETV after winning the 2023 school of the year award.
Metsküla School when it was visited by ETV after winning the 2023 school of the year award. Source: Rait-Roland Veskemaa/ERR

A municipality in Southwestern Estonia is sticking to its decision to close two schools and scale down three more, despite one of the schools recently being named Estonian school of the year.

Lääneranna council decided to keep the decision, made in late March, in force, a decision which involves the closing of two schools and the downsizing of three more.

Councilor Raul Oberschneider presented a bill at Thursday's council session which would have annulled the decision.

The bill stated that the decision had been premature and ill-considered, was unfair to the schools and their staff and pupils, and had upset local residents.

However, the bill was defeated by 12 votes to seven.

The municipal government itself also rejected the bill's contents, adding that the school network in its current size is not financially viable.

The decision from March 24 still guarantees sufficient opportunities for acquiring general education, while at the same time reduces the local government's cost base, including in building maintenance, the government said.

The schools in question are at Metsküla and Lõpe, while Virtsu school will be reduced in size to four grades, and Varbla and Koonga schools, from fall 2024, will shrink to six-grades.

Metsküla school was named school of the year 2023 only a week ago, while parents' groups obtained preliminary legal proection from closure or downsizing in respect of Metsküla, Lõpe and Virtsu schools, from the first-tier Tallinn Administrative Court.

The Lääneranna municipality has contested the Virstu court ruling, and says it plans to do the same regarding the Metsküla and Lõpe schools.

Lääneranna municipality lies in Pärnu County and was created in the local government reforms of 2017, via the merger of two previously separate municipalities.

As of January 1, 5,199 people lived in the municipality, 1,105 of these in the main town, Lihula.

The population is served by one high school in Lihula, and six elementary (Algkool) or basic (Põhikool) schools across the municipality.

Additionally, two private schools and several kindgergartens operate in Lääneranna.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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