An interim board of governors is to be appointed to oversee the merger of Kilcoan and Mullaghdubh primary schools in Islandmagee.
The body will be responsible for the creation of new management structures and staffing within the amalgamated school, which will operate jointly from both existing sites from September 2016.
The news was welcomed by the principals of both rural primaries, who had committed to the merger as far back as 2004.
Claire Todd from Kilcoan PS said:“I am delighted with the decision to amalgamate Mullaghdubh and Kilcoan primary schools. This is a step in the right direction which will create better opportunities for the pupils of both schools.
“It is an exciting time which everyone here at school is looking forward to. With any change, there is always apprehension and I would like to reassure parents that the well-being, happiness and education of their children has been of high importance and every consideration was given in respect of that.
“I look forward to working alongside Arlene Cambridge, the principal of Mullaghdubh, the staff and the pupils.”
Mrs Cambridge added: “Like Claire, I am happy to see the two schools amalgamating; this is a positive move. Everyone has been working extremely hard at reaching a suitable outcome for everyone, but most importantly the pupils.
“We are very excited and the children are looking forward to the new adventure and the opportunity to widen friendships,” she added. “On behalf of myself and Claire, we would like to thank everyone for their help, support and patience. We would also like to thank the Education Authority officers for their help and guidance along the way.”
The merger builds on a pre-existing link between the two schools, who collaborated last month for a fundraising concert in the village.
Larne Lough UUP councillor Mark McKinty said: “The two schools work very well together anyway and it would be good to get them working more closely.
“We are getting to the stage where all that we are missing is a new building, and I have been in touch with the Department (of Education) and the Education Authority recently to see how that is progressing.”
In a statement, DUP MLA Sammy Wilson and councillors Gregg McKeen and Paul Reid called for a “swift decision” from the Department over the planned new-build. “This opens the way for a new school to be built on the site which was acquired at Ballystrudder over 10 years ago,” the statement read.
“It has been a joint effort to bring this proposal to this stage and we are committed to ensuring that the new school is pushed over the line quickly.”