Lakeside Christian High School forced to close

THE Lakeside Christian College high school at Tweed Heads South is due to close on April 11, leaving 120 students looking for new schools. Parents were shocked yesterday %after staff at the financially troubled non-denominational campus %announced the closure at a students' assembly about lunchtime. Some students ran crying and upset from the school grounds in Acacia Street. One mother said her Year 10 girl had suddenly arrived home saying, "the school is closing, it's terrible". Lakeside parents are now worried about finding new schools for their children. "This is a nightmare for us," the mother said. A NSW Education Department spokesman said all school-age residents in NSW were entitled to a public school education and all the Lakeside families would need to do is approach Tweed public schools to arrange enrolment. If necessary, demountable buildings could be provided at short notice to cope with an influx of former Lakeside students, the spokesman said. Lakeside Christian College went into voluntary administration on February 14, according to administrator Susan Carter of Worrells Solvency and Forensic Accountants based at Surfers Paradise. Ms Carter, who was appointed by the college board, indicated that the future of the primary school campus with 107 pupils at the Lakeside Christian Centre church site in Caloola Drive, Tweed Heads, was uncertain. She said talks were continuing to try to find ways to enable the primary school to continue operating. Last December, Lakeside Christian College's founding principal, Lyn Mazey, was dismissed from the position he had held since 1994. An investigation last year by Christian Schools Australia and the federal Education Department identified "financial mismanagement" at Lakeside, although there were few details about what went wrong. Ms Carter yesterday revealed the federal and NSW departments were claiming refunds from Lakeside totalling $1.7 million for "over-funded" grants, which had been paid on the basis of incorrect enrolment figures. She said the two departments were among unsecured creditors owed a total of $2.5 million. As well, the%Banana Coast Credit Union was owed $3.1 million as mortgagee. Ms Carter said considerable effort had been put into trying to sell the college as an operating school, but it had now been decided to sell the high school land as a property development site. "We have tried to sell it as a school, but the land is worth less as a school and so the decision is to put that land on the market," Ms Carter said. She said a creditors' meeting would be held on April 4 at the Lakeside Christian Centre when it is anticipated the college will go into liquidation. Ms Carter said only a small number of parents had paid fees in advance and she was confident all creditors would be paid in full "once the land is sold". Lakeside Christian Centre Pastor Bill Pryor did not respond to a request for comment.



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