I WRITE in relation to the article in last week’s edition of the Town and Country relating to the use of land at 3A North St, that our school had been using for agricultural education. Firstly, while very disappointed at the loss of this land for our agricultural education program, I congratulate the 15 members of the Childers Men’s Shed Association on their successful application for re-development. I also commend our P&C Association president Sandra Webb on the excellent leadership she has shown in fair-minded and strong support for our school, as exemplified in her excellent letter to the editor last week. I thank the 38 community members and organisations who supported our school’s agriculture program by lodging objections to the Men’s Shed application, that unfortunately for our young people, ultimately proved unsuccessful. Councillor Ricciardi is a strong supporter of Isis High, however I wish to clarify some of his reported comments from that article that some readers may infer reflect poorly on our school. There have been no definite proposals of alternate land for our agriculture program made for school consideration. Councillor Ricciardi, Mrs Webb and I spoke some time ago about the possible use of a portion of Childers Showground land, but it was indicated that this would be subject to various further discussions and approvals. That “discussion” has not been raised with us again. Councillor Ricciardi indicated the school will need to show some “give and take”. I have been most careful to ensure the school community remains fair, factual and balanced throughout this regrettable process. Our school also remains ready and willing to work with and compromise on any proposals that will provide for the ongoing comprehensive agricultural education of our students. However, as our objection to council indicated, our agricultural program is not delivered at the whim of the school. The program must satisfy the requirements of the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority and is subject to annual and external review. Similarly, when schools use live animals in their educational programs, they are subject to the requirements for ethical treatment of animals by the Department of Education and Training, again subject to annual audit. There is no capacity for “give and take” on these requirements; schools are compliant and continue program delivery or are not compliant and cannot offer the program. Until some other viable land option arises, the school will now negotiate ongoing arrangements for students currently enrolled in senior agricultural programs, and at the same time plan for a reduction in future agricultural programs, as well as the clearing of that land and disposal of livestock.
Allan Cook Principal Isis District State High School