Administrators of Colmont School will meet with families tonight to discuss the Kilmore school’s impending closure.

Administrators will give a statement on the school being placed into administration and families will have an opportunity to ask general questions.

Fellow Kilmore schools Assumption College and St Patrick’s Primary School have opened their doors today to families left scrambling to find their children a school, after it was announced year levels three to 10 would finish on Friday.

Assumption College will remain open until 8pm tonight for families to meet senior staff and receive information about enrolment. Online applications are available at www.assumption.vic.edu.au.

St Patrick’s Primary School will have staff available at their front office area until 6pm tonight and during school hours in the coming weeks for families looking to enrol. Information on enrolment is available at www.spkilmore.catholic.edu.au.

Former chairman of Colmont’s board of directors Rod Dally told the Review today the school, which housed international boarders, had been unable to recover financially from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Review understand there is currently about 30 boarders at the school.

“The root cause of this is the locked borders and losing a substantial number of students who couldn’t come back because of COVID-19,” he said.

“Although we’ve been working hard to recoup the finances, we weren’t able to this year. About 50 of our students went home and didn’t come back, and that killed our finances.

“We’ve been working actively to try and correct that. A lot has happened in the past 12 months, but the critical factor by a long shot was COVID-19.”

Voluntary administrators Ian Grant and Paul Langdon, from corporate insolvency firm Vince and Associates, will oversee the day-to-day operation of the school while it is under administration.

Mr Grant said the administrators would examine the finances of the school more thoroughly in coming days.

“The school was running out of funds and sought additional funding from the commonwealth and state governments, as well as finance from banking institutions and private lending,” he said.

“As additional government funding and finance was not forthcoming, the board of directors could not continue because the school was insolvent, or likely to become insolvent.

“Paul Langdon and myself were appointed voluntary administrators of Colmont School on July 26. Upon reviewing the funds the school has available to it, we have made the decision for year three to year 10 to finish their schooling this Friday and to prioritise years 11 and 12 to continue at the school until we can transition them to other schools.”

Mr Grant said his first focus was supporting Colmont’s year 11 and 12 students.

“We’re not sure [how long it will take for year 11 and 12 students to transition to other schools]. You can’t force a parent and a student to go to a particular institution, but there will certainly be a period of time that we’ll keep their education going here,” he said.

Earlier

Colmont School, formerly The Kilmore International School, has been placed into administration.

Students in years three to 10 will finish this Friday. Years 11 and 12 are expected to continue for a short time, while arrangements are made for students to transition to other schools.

Some parents attended a meeting on Wednesday evening about the school going into administration, but many families were not notified about the meeting.

Teachers and staff were told about the plans on Wednesday afternoon.

Families were notified that the school was placed in administration late on Wednesday by an email from the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, a State Government body that regulates Victoria’s education and training.

“The administrators will decide about how long the school and school boarding premises will continue to operate. When they have made this decision, they will tell you,” the email said.

“We understand that this will be unexpected and distressing news for your family.”

An attachment to the email included vague information about next steps, options, and help available.

“If the school closes, you will need to choose an alternative school for your child and enrol your child at that school. Your child is able to attend their designated neighbourhood government school (local school) or another government school of their choice, provided that school has sufficient space to accommodate them.”

The Review understands other schools in the shire were not warned about Colmont’s impending closure.

Colmont’s year 12 students study the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, IBDP, course.

Fewer than 25 schools in Victoria offer the IBDP – the closest in Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs.

The school announced in May it would change its name as it did not own The Kilmore International School naming rights.

It also announced the intention to move from the current White Street Kilmore premises, which it does not own.

The land on which the school sits was sold in 2019, bought by a Chinese company from the school’s founder Ray Wittmer.

48 COMMENTS

  1. Wow what a whirlwind for families such as mine that have had to endure the never ending list of tasks in the face of the school closure. At this time we all feel differently about what has happened. Some are angry at the school in general, or the board or the Principal. Some have so much grief about the loss of a fabulous education in a country setting. The IB offers students the best chances to get in to some top universities around the world and to dare to dream of a future bigger than the town they are studying in. Access to curriculum that is pushing the limits of each of them every single day. Belonging in a group of students that all know because they are sharing the experience of being smart and being celebrated, instead of being that one nerdy kid. Getting up and presenting in front of the whole class because its your turn not just because the teacher picked you. Practicing those skills so you can stand in front of a camera and get your point across. Making music so beautiful and poignant that it brings you to tears. Having conversations with your parents who don’t have to dumb down the language because they know what you mean. I have cried so much these past few days and partly its the loss of my child graduating with their class, the loss of the opportunity to go to ski camp which has been cancelled, to finish their Duke of Edinborough, to challenge themselves in life as well as the classroom. It has astonished me that other schools don’t offer socials for their students or the extra opportunities apart from the classroom work that my children had. I have also cried because of the beautiful generosity of the community and thank each person who has stood up and taken on so much when we are hurting. We will become resilient in time and I am grateful to live in such an understanding community.

  2. The statement from board chair Rod was misleading, the Covid 19 happen in 2020, the border was open in 2021 already, their revenue was not affected in 2020 as per annual report, they had less international students onsite now due to they terminated the service agreement with the company and they are lack of ability to recruit new international students. The existing students left school because of the poor management of the new Principal and new board according to the international parents. I heard that they couldn’t get in touch with the school when their child need help after they “shut down” the international office. I assumed that the financial shortage should come from they spent money in a wrong way, and not do the financial budgeting properly.

    • Interesting too that there is no mention of Wally Mott being both a board member during this time and having an interest in this paper. I highly doubt this comment will be published as this paper’s articles have been anything but misleading so far

      • In fact, an ABR search for Colmont shows St Hilaire as a registered business name for the school, which if you search for Wally Hilaire Mott will show results for the Hilaire development proposed by himself and his daughters in Wallan. A conflict of interest no? Not only that but notably the error initially posted in this article that “the school was sold in 2019” while corrected since there is no admission that the article was incorrect as good journalistic practice would presume.

  3. Ok now is the time for kilmore high as the growth in the town is huge and having one option is not good enough for our community.

  4. Cam, The name ‘Colmont’ is constructed from two
    elements: col, the lowest point between two peaks,
    and mont, the peak. It reminds us of the journey we
    all take in our quest for knowledge and
    understanding.

  5. I heard that principle was talking to many agents that the school no longer need of international students and local students are the main stream for the school in the he future, they terminated the serivce from international office and many boarding houses early last year. They even locked the building prevent international office staffs come to work without any notification.
    I don’t believe Covid is the reason they run into administration, because the revenue on the 2020 financial report shows no significant change from previous years.
    However, the other expense on the report shows significant increase for 2020, school was running under new principal and new board chair. I assumed that the board and management of the school has responsibilities for the high expense in “other expense” account.

  6. My theory- In 2019 the school was bought by a Chinese company, which doesn’t have much related to the actual shortage since they had little to no contact with how the school operates! I’ve heard the teachers talking about how the school had moments where they went low on money, but nothing like this.
    It is not even the teacher’s fault as most of them didn’t know until Wednesday as well. Covid might be a reason for the money shortage, though this year the number of children tripled! Since the school was expanding they needed more buildings but since they didn’t own the license to the property and the name, they were merely ‘renting’ it… After spending money on the clothes and advertisements etc, afcorse it had a
    large price. According to a high-ranking anonymous member (of the school), “The school would have had enough money for next year, to be financially stable”. And another few quotes to prove this point.
    “The school was running out of funds and sought additional funding from the commonwealth and state governments, as well as finance from banking institutions and private lending,” “As additional government funding and finance was not forthcoming, the board of directors could not continue because the school was insolvent, or likely to become insolvent. The school is now over GGs BRO .

    • I also believe that covid is a convenient excuse for what has happened, I agree with the first 2 paragraphs above. As a parent of an international boarder it was clear that Colmont was no longer interested in international students and the new principal’s new administrative structure and staff changes made it very difficult to liaise with the school from Asia.

  7. My son used to attend this school two years ago. When Covid hit two years ago and some of the overseas students did not come back, I saw the writing on the wall and pulled my son out the following year. The way the school was being run at that time was unsustainable specially with the drastic decrease in overseas students enrolled. From my understanding, around 30-40% of the school’s operational revenue is generated from those enrolments although they are at most only 10-15% of the entire student body.

  8. Where is the principal??? Nothing, absolutely nothing said by him – this is disgusting! Trailing news articles looking for his comment, his apology, nothing! Who is going to take responsibility for all this?! Not him apparently. Wonder how much he was getting paid?

    • Yep the truth will come out, looks like the school was forced to pay 1.2 million for services not worth anything when boarders were closed, 500k for use of the name and community rumour is 1million in rent …. hard to see how any business let alone school could handle that and obviously not much philanthropic desire from founders to leave it in the position…https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/covid-contracts-and-bitter-feuds-why-a-kilmore-school-collapsed-20220729-p5b5rk.html

      • Not exactly true, the school pays same amount of “service fee” consistently throughout the past 10 years to the same entity as you can find out from their annual report. it is not the cause for the financial shortage, school revenue increase in 2020 since they received jobkeeper without decrease number of international student. The border close doesn’t mean they don’t have international students, the school provided online courses for the past 2 years for those whom can not come back to school, and received full amount of international tuition fee and boarding fee. I also heard from other agents who used to work with the company, the company has to paid 20% first year tuition as commission for each student they enroll on behalf of the school. I assumed there was huge amount of marketing fee each year since they have to advertising in over 10 countries to get new students for school and hired numbers of staffs oversea to do marketing. Come to the rent of campus, the number show on annual report was surprised me, I didn’t realize they only paid such low fee for commercial use of this size of land. It is much lower than the market price. And the rental on campus land was reduced in 2019 ( it was charged more than this amount in previous years) .

    • Not exactly true, the school pays same amount of “service fee” consistently throughout the past 10 years to the same entity as you can find out from their annual report. it is not the cause for the financial shortage, school revenue increase in 2020 since they received jobkeeper without decrease number of international student. The border close doesn’t mean they don’t have international students, the school provided online courses for the past 2 years for those whom can not come back to school, and received full amount of international tuition fee and boarding fee. I also heard from other agents who used to work with the company, the company has to paid 20% first year tuition as commission for each student they enroll on behalf of the school. I assumed there was huge amount of marketing fee each year since they have to advertising in over 10 countries to get new students for school and hired numbers of staffs oversea to do marketing. Come to the rent of campus, the number show on annual report was surprised me, I didn’t realize they only paid such low fee for commercial use of this size of land. It is much lower than the market price. And the rental on campus land was reduced in 2019 ( it was charged more than this amount in previous years) .

  9. Not exactly on topic here, but the schools in Mitchell Shire in general are terrible.

    Broadford is the cream of the crap for public secondary schools but they are grossly under staffed and under funded with the decent staff members having to make up for the the work of members that border on incompetent.

    Now that KIIS/Colmont is closing even those who can afford private schools are left with Assumption College, provided you are OK with religion, and in particular, Catholicism being pushed on your children.

    You would think with all of the development in process and planned for the area education would be important to government.

    • Yes totally agree, we moved house to afford the fees because my children had such an appalling time at the local public schools….

  10. @Cam “Bought by a Chinese Company” – they should have never sold it to one “, is brought forward by you as a statement of aversion against Chinese investors in general and is already critical as such.
    The current owners of the land and infrastructure have absolutely nothing to do with the school going into administration, as they are not and never have been involved in daily operations. Such combination is not even allowed under current Victorian legislation. The fantastic set-up of this school, meticulously fine-tuned by its previous Principal, has been ruined in the shortest time by the megalomaniacal fantasies and demands of its incompetent successor, and now ousted Principal, who was endorsed and permanently supported by a likeminded Chairman of the Board. Covid has not been the reason for a low cash-flow, it was the unrealistic desire to grow into a local mainstream private school, where quantity of students became more important than the quality of education. A process, inclusive a name change, that was started by that same incompetent management team, without securing sufficient funding.

    • JJ couldn’t agree more. The new Principal was more focused on promoting a woke culture in the school rather than the academics. Had a ball spending money that was obviously scarce and misleading parents with the School’s vision for the future. Standards began to slip very quickly when Mr Cooper began, whereas with the previous Principal the standards were set in stone. Absolutely no transparency from the Board nor Senior Management with what was going on behind the scenes financially, an absolute scandal that parents purchased new school uniforms for this Colmont joke. Wondering what will happen to those poor parents who paid one year in advance for their school fees? Mr Cooper promotes himself on LinkedIn as highly experienced educational leader with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. Skilled in Leadership Development. Mama mia.

  11. If parents are struggling to find places for their children to complete the IB qualification, the last resort may have to be completing it online via Crimson Global Academy

    • As it’s an international qualification, are there not other, non-local/overseas options for completion of the IB via distance/online mode?

  12. Sounds like a combination of factors lead to this – getting your land & name sold out from under you and then a pandemic preventing a major source of income in international students would be extremely hard to manage. From the link in Fay M’s comment it was obvious the license to use TKIS name was not sustainable and who knows about how high the rent on the land was… As a parent this is so sad for the students as this school was unique in the area – a place where it was cool to be clever and study hard very rare

    • The land and name were not “sold out from under” them. They have been separate entities since 1998. The rent is not the issue. It is leadership and transparency.

  13. I don’t believe this is true, the school’s 2020 and 2019 financial reports showed no change to payments to external parties in terms of rent or management fee. It was also clear that the school did not ask for rent concession from the landlord from the beginning of COVID. In the end poor management!

  14. We didn’t even get an email!!
    This is text book mismanagement and they need to be held to account. The school business was left vulnerable to this kind of event by not being in control of name nor premises. I will be following the board members very closely for a few years to come to ensure my investments are no longer under their sphere of direction. Incompetence doesn’t come close to it. Sincerely wish all the teachers and staff swift new roles somewhere secure, students and their families now have some very tough decisions to make, potentially forcing them to move to other towns or cities. There is already a shortage of schools in the district….

  15. I thought the article was quite balanced and stated the facts that are known at this time. The focus now should be on the welfare of the students and not playing the blame game

  16. It was very secretive at all levels, no information from administration. School had new student joining in last 2 weeks, there were parent teacher interviews only 3 days ago, and now unbelievably school closing down in 2 days for year 3-10. Not only students are affected directly but their parents, parent’s job..everyone is scrambling. Very unprofessional people.

  17. An email went out last night, the very sad fact is the school is closing. I hope whoever is responsible on the board and leadership is held accountable for this horrendous outcome.

    • The name and uniform were owned by the founder, as such the school was paying royalties to the Wittmers (former land owners) not to the new land owners. But that doesn’t account for the massive debt, the new landowners have nothing to do with the running of the school. Where did the money go?

  18. I am a teacher at the school. Have been since 2008 and I’m devastated that this will be my last week with our amazing students. Unfortunately this article has created even more confusion. The “school” was not sold to a Chinese company. The company being referred to are the landowners, not the owners of the “school”. A big difference. It’s important to not try and spin this and blame people who are not involved in the running of the “school”.

    • Hi David. I think – hope – the article might have been updated. I just read it for the first time and my understanding of the relationships was that the landowner, and the owner of the original school name were separate from the operators of the school. Wishing you the best in a terrible situation.

    • Hi David W, this is Iris C from Taiwan, you have probably forgotten about me. We met at the school back in 1994/1995. We have just moved back to Melbourne few months ago from Taiwan, just shocking to see what happened to the school in the news yesterday. I had so much fun at TKIS, this is a sad news for all of us that attended the school.

  19. Your last paragraph is inaccurate and potentially misleading. A school entity can never be sold, majority of Colmont School Board Members were appointed before 2019. Check their financial reports on ACNC website!

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