NINE schools in Victoria and two schools in the NSW Riverina will not reopen when the school year begins this week.Some of the closures are due to schools merging at a new or combined campus, but most are the result of falling enrolments, especially in regional areas.
Among them is Mallan Public School, 40km across the Murray River northeast of Swan Hill.
Operating as a provisional school from 1902 to 1909, the school moved several times before opening at its current site in 1958 with 43 students.
Despite becoming a focal point for activities in the farming community, it began last year with six students and finished with just four.
Past and present students gathered last month for a ''Goodbye, farewell, amen'' celebration and students will this year attend schools at Moulamein and Swan Hill.
Mallan principal Nyree Taylor declined to comment.
While it makes financial sense to close a small school because of dwindling enrolments, there can be unexpected consequences for the community, according to University of Melbourne researcher Dr Hernán Cuervo.
Dr Cuervo is a Youth Research Centre research fellow in the university's Graduate School of Education.
He wrote his doctoral thesis on rural schools in Victoria, mostly in the Mallee region.
''The school is often the centre of the community and provides a meeting place for the community, the possibility of activities such as sports, arts, health, community gathering and socialising,'' he said.
''In many instances, in some of these towns the government school is the only school so there's no alternative.
''That is why the closing of a school in a small town especially is dramatically important and really affects the town beyond the education of children, but also in terms of the sustainability of a community. That's what's not understood by policy makers. The same goes for cuts to TAFE.''
During his research over the past 20 years, Dr Cuervo said people in their late 30s had spoken of having to leave their towns because TAFE was not available in the early 1990s.
He said last year's $300 million cut to TAFE funding in Victoria would force more school leavers to leave town in order to further their education.
''The same happens when schools close in towns,'' he said.
''Parents resettling in rural towns want basic services for their children, like school and health.''
Without a school, Dr Cuervo said this group of parents in their 30s and 40s would either leave or avoid small communities.
As the people who drive the economy - by running businesses that provide jobs to young people and older people - gravitate to larger towns, the small towns would be left to the unemployed, retired or ageing.
A Department of Education spokesman said school closures in Victoria included Goorambat and Thornton primary schools and Parkwood and Endeavour Hills secondary colleges.
Learmonth Primary School was ''de-staffed'' last year and Windermere Primary School is expected to suffer the same fate.
In October, the Victorian Government announced the closure of the three remaining Koorie Pathways schools at Mildura, Swan Hill and Morwell after a review found the schools were unsustainable and not meeting their core objective of transitioning students into ongoing education, training or employment.
In NSW, there will be mergers of schools at Bega West and Bega, and Gateshead and Gateshead West.
And the 130-year-old school at Grong Grong, east of Narrandera, will go into recess, allowing the possibility of it to be reopened should families move into the area during the year.