The plans to close a school in Oxfordshire for "persistently low numbers" were canceled yesterday despite a projected increase in student numbers across the county.
The Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet has announced plans to permanently close Culham Parochial CE Primary School near Abingdon and merge it with neighboring Clifton Hampden Primary.
The Council documents show that the school, which has been temporarily closed since September, predicts a deficit of approximately GBP 55,000 by the end of the financial year 2019/20.
The new report added: "School enrollment is too low to generate sufficient funds to cover staff costs and maintain the building.
"It is still expected that the school's deficit will be significant and continue to increase if left open.
"The closure is proposed because of persistently low student numbers and the consequent impact on school and curriculum financial viability."
Read again: The council proposes to close the district's smallest elementary school
The number of students employed at the school dropped to 15 in September, making it Oxfordshire's smallest public school.
All students were instead offered seats and a free transport to Clifton Hampden Primary School, and the Culham building was no longer used.
A new Oxfordshire student accommodation plan, released today before another board meeting, envisages a 5.8 percent increase in the number of primary students between 2018/19 and 2023/24.
It says: "The demand for reception has declined in most areas since 2015, but is now expected to increase again in areas with significant housing growth.
"Planning for adequate primary school work now focuses more on housing growth than on birth rates."
The emerging Local Plan of the South Oxfordshire District Council, which includes plans for future development, cites Culham as one of the seven major sites for new homes.
The land surrounding the Culham Science Center is planned for 3,500 new homes, targeting only 453 people in the 2011 census.
Also read: The elementary school unofficially closes its doors
Nevertheless, the Council officials' report to the Cabinet states: "There is currently no evidence that the local student population will increase, at least in the short to medium term.
"As the birth rate has dropped in recent years, there would still be enough schooling in this area.
"Housing growth in the area has so far been in the designated area of the Sutton Courtenay CE Primary School, which has recently been expanded."
The Council received 23 responses to a first consultation in the summer and only four responses to an official consultation that ended in October.
Of the four, there were three objections, two of which concerned only traffic and parking.
The report said: "There is a danger that an important municipal facility in the village will be lost.
"However, the school grounds and school building are owned by a charitable foundation, so the decision to keep the building open to the community would be made separately from this consultation process."
Also read: The latest information on the South Oxfordshire Local Plan
At yesterday's Cabinet meeting, Council President Ian Hudspeth said: "It does not seem that the local community is protesting against it [the closure], "
The school was founded in 1850 by the church and the building in the High Street is owned by the Diocesan Trustees Oxford Ltd.
It was rated "in need of improvement" in May, increasing its vulnerability.
This year less than half of the students lived in the designated catchment area. Instead, they traveled from Abingdon, Sutton Courtenay and Berinsfield, where, according to the council, school seats are available.
The report states that Culham employees are transferred to Clifton Hampden and have "no immediate plans for personnel changes".
However, the personnel structure will be "reviewed in the future".
The villagers rescued the Culham School in 2010 after closure plans were proposed, but this time there was no such campaign to save them.