Community signs on to fight school threat
A SURGE of community support has collected almost 1300 signatures on a petition to protest the threatened closure of Daintree State School.
The small remote town of Daintree Village is home to about 150 residents but support from hundreds of people throughout the Douglas region has been a huge boost for the community’s fight to keep their school.
In contrast, Palmerston East State School in Innisfail submitted a petition with just 12 signatures.
With fewer than a dozen students enrolled, Daintree State School is one of 15 Queensland schools and four in the Far North under review by the government.
Daintree Parents and Citizens Association president Hilary Simmons said she had been overwhelmed by the concern of former Douglas Shire residents.
“We just got a really good response, not just in this community but throughout the shire in itself,” she said.
“I personally feel positive about it because I think we have a unique situation but who knows?
“I wonder if it’s all about dollars and that can be something difficult to fight.”
Ms Simmons said a group of parents had helped prepare a submission to Education Queensland on why the school should remain open.
It included information about community demographics, a lack of accessibility to other schools, curriculum and economic factors.
Another factor, Ms Simmons says, is that the school is the key emergency evacuation centre for Daintree catering for about 100 people.
Cook MP Jason O’Brien, who is in favour of keeping the school open, presented the Daintree petition to Parliament on Monday.
“I was surprised and disappointed to learn that the Daintree State School was earmarked for mothballing due to low enrolment numbers and concerns about the school’s ongoing viability,” Mr O’Brien told Parliament.
He urged Education Minister Geoff Wilson to reject “in the strongest terms possible” the suggestion to mothball the school at any time in the future.
“As the school community has made it clear to the minister, the school stands at the centre of this community and provides more than just a place for kids to come and learn; it is the hub and the heart of the Daintree village,” Mr O’Brien said.
Mr O’Brien said it was critical for the school to remain open.
Education Queensland will now consider submissions before a decision is made during Term 4, which starts in October.
Save our School: Daintree School students’ plea to the State Government