Grow­ing pains for school

ROW OVER VA­CANT GOV­ERN­MENT LAND

Eastern Reporter - - Front Page - Joel Kelly Beechboro Chris­tian School prin­ci­pal Steven Coote and deputy Ge­off Dun­jey.

BEECHBORO Chris­tian School in Bennett Springs is fast ap­proach­ing ca­pac­ity and seek­ing new premises to ac­com­mo­date un­prece­dented en­rol­ments.

The school wanted to buy va­cant gov­ern­ment land 200 me­tres down the road to build a big­ger school and the Swan Chris­tian Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion sought to make an of­fer on the land.

But the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment has re­fused to con­sider sell­ing the va­cant land, de­spite hav­ing no cur­rent plans to build a school on the site, at the cor­ner of Bennett Springs Drive and Crys­tal Turn.

The depart­ment’s in­fra­struc­ture direc­tor John Fischer said the State Gov­ern­ment bought the land in 2002, but had not built a school due to “slow res­i­den­tial growth in the area”.

“How­ever, if devel­op­ment does oc­cur in the fu­ture as ex­pected, the land needs to con­tinue to be set aside as build­ing a school may be re­quired,” he said.

Stu­dent num­bers at Beechboro Chris­tian School have in­creased from 170 to 256 in the past 12 months.

The school cur­rently leases land from the Cra­covia Club, but can only ac­com­mo­date 350 stu­dents.

Prin­ci­pal Steven Coote said the school was will­ing to pay mar­ket value for the gov­ern­ment land and build a school that the com­mu­nity had been wait­ing years to get.

“The chal­lenge for us is to grow at a rate we can sus­tain, but also to grow at a rate that meets the needs of the com­mu­nity and peo­ple in new de­vel­op­ments as they arise,” he said.

“All we want to do is have a con­ver­sa­tion to say there’s a pos­si­bil­ity to es- tab­lish a qual­ity school in an area that’s zoned for ed­u­ca­tion.”

West Swan MLA Rita Saf­fi­oti com­piled com­mu­nity feed­back about the pro­posal for Beechboro Chris­tian School to buy the land, and said res­i­dents were over­whelm­ingly in favour of the idea.

“Given there are no plans to build a new public school on the site, the next best op­tion is for the Gov­ern­ment to al­low Swan Chris­tian Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion to pur­chase the land to re­lo­cate the BCC,” she said.

“The site has been ne­glected for too long and should be put to use for the lo­cal com­mu­nity.”

The State Gov­ern­ment re­cently dis­carded plans for a pri­mary school in south Caver­sham in favour of By­ford.

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