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St Francis Catholic School, Ayr, has a rich history providing education and support to the Burdekin community.
The newly appointed Parish Priest of Ayr, Fr Jules Bucas, welcomed the first Good Samaritan Sisters to the district in September 1912. Almost immediately, the Sisters commenced teaching classes at Brandon and at Ayr. Whilst the Sisters lived at Brandon, they travelled daily to Ayr in a horse and buggy. Before too long, both the Convent and School in Brandon closed and the Sisters moved to Ayr. Thus, St Francis Catholic School began its long history of service to the people of this district.
Education at 99 Edwards Street has taken many forms over the past eighty years. On this site at various times we have had a girls' boarding school, a co-educational primary school, a secondary school for girls and a split campus regional primary school.
In 1974, all of the Catholic Schools in Ayr underwent a tremendous reorganisation which resulted in St Francis Catholic School being located on two sites; the present one in Edwards Street for upper primary classes and the site in Norham Road, Parkside, for infants classes. The Parkside campus was sold in 1991, and once again all classes were relocated to the one site in Edwards Street.
For the first 65 years of the school's existence, it was in the care of the Good Samaritan Sisters. The Sisters withdrew from the community at the end of 1996 after an unbroken 84 years commitment to St Francis. From 1976 to 1996, the school has been in the care of the Marist Brothers. Br Bill McAvoy continued Marist involvement until 2000 when the Marists, after a 41-year commitment to education in the Burdekin also left the district. In 1997, the school's first lay Principal was appointed. Since the school's beginning, dedicated lay staff have worked to help provide quality, Catholic education at St Francis.
St Francis Pre-school opened in 1975. The Pre-school operated independently on various sites until the end of 1992 when it was incorporated into the overall administration of the School. At the commencement of 1994, the Pre-school was located in its new premises within the grounds of St Francis Catholic School.
St Francis Catholic School is a Catholic Education for the children in the district. Children of other religious denominations have always been, and continue to be welcome at St Francis. Our school is a part of the Townsville Diocese Catholic Education System.
Today our school has an enrolment of approximately 230 children. Renovations, extensions and upgrading are undergoing. Just as the physical plant undergoes change, so too does the school curriculum and methods of teaching.
However, some things have not changed over the years. As with that first class in 1912, our school is still centred on Christ and his message of love and understanding. We are committed to the Gospel values. We are committed to the broad development of the children in our care. We are committed to educational excellence.