Debt forces school sale

MACQUARIE Anglican Grammar School is on the market for a new owner to take it on from 2014 and expand its future.

The growing Dubbo educator of 470 students is one of two the Diocese of Bathurst will offer for sale as a going concern, or what has been called "friendly takeover".

The church's governing body resolved to divest itself of Macquarie and a school at Orange in an attempt to break down the diocese's wall of debt, previously reported as $40 million.

ade on Saturday, hours after the installation of a new bishop, offers the best opportunity for the school that’s enrolments are at an all-time high to thrive in the future.

They are optimistic the momentous decision taken just more than a decade after students walked through the gates for the first time will place the school on a better financial base.

The sale process is likely to be completed this year, with the new owner known by June, but the transfer of ownership is not expected to occur until early 2014. 

Macquarie school council chairman Ron Hacker gave assurances the kindergarten to year 12 school would operate as normal throughout this year as he announced the decision to the Daily Liberal yesterday.

The diocese also had an expectation that transition to the eventual new owner - an educational organisation - would be as “seamless” as possible, he said.

In a letter sent to parents yesterday, Dr Hacker acknowledged the decision may come as a surprise, particularly so early in the school year, but he said the timing was beyond the control of either the school or the diocese.

He stressed school finances were “absolutely secure” for 2013 and the seven-member school council would not have allowed classes to resume had it been otherwise.

Principal Geoffrey Fouracre shared both Dr Hacker’s optimism about the future and his commitment it would be “business as usual”.

“The debt situation of the diocese has and would continue to seriously hamper the school’s opportunities for growth and development,” he said.

“This opportunity will allow us to build buildings, to employ the staff, to have the resources we need to ensure the school’s future.

“We believe this process will be what I’ve called a friendly takeover, where a larger, well-established organisation that has a track record in successfully owning and operating schools comes in and we have a seamless transition to new ownership.

“So this can only be good news for Macquarie Anglican Grammar School.”

The church’s governing body, acting on the advice of its independent oversight committee, also decided to offer Orange Anglican Grammar School for sale as a going concern, but the diocese will retain ownership of All Saints College at Bathurst.

o How the sale will proceed and newly-installed Bishop of Bathurst Ian Palmer’s comments in tomorrow’s edition of the Daily Liberal.

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