Com­mu­nity signs on to fight school threat

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - HOLLY ROBERT­SON

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.

Photo by HOLLY ROBERT­SON

Save our School: Dain­tree School stu­dents’ plea to the State Govern­ment

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