School site ‘ur­gent’

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By ROSANNA CAN­DLER

THE Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment needs to lock down a site for the new City Beach High School so par­ents can start plan­ning for their chil­dren’s fu­ture ed­u­ca­tion, says Cam­bridge Mayor Si­mon Withers.

Last Tues­day, the Western Sub­urbs Weekly broke the news that the State Gov­ern­ment had short­listed the aban­doned Skyline drive-in cin­ema and sur­round­ing area for a sec­ondary school.

On Thurs­day, Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Peter Col­lier an­nounced the 2000-ca­pac­ity “sta­teof-the-art” school would open in 2019 at one of four lo­ca­tions – the Skyline site linked to the old City Beach Se­nior High School, va­cant land at Fred Bur­ton Park, the cor­ner of The Boule­vard and West Coast High­way or Rochdale and Wol­las­ton roads.

Mr Withers said he was al­ready in­ves­ti­gat­ing where his daugh­ters Phoebe (9) and Han­nah (7) would at­tend high school when they left City Beach Pri­mary School.

“One of the things that this has brought home to me as a par­ent is that we re­ally need cer­tainty on the open­ing date,” he said.

“They can­not be­gin de­sign work un­til the site has been de­ter­mined and the way things are go­ing that won’t be un­til some time next year.

“That leaves less than three years for de­sign and con­struc­tion, which makes open­ing in 2019 ex­tremely chal­leng­ing. I hope it does, but I wouldn’t place money on it.”

AN­NOUNC­ING four po­ten­tial sites for a new City Beach High School with­out a con­sul­ta­tion process is “like throw­ing peo­ple into a pi­ranha pond to see which ones don’t get eaten”, says Cam­bridge Mayor Si­mon Withers.

Mr Withers said he be­lieved the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment rushed the an­nounce­ment last week be­cause they were “chas­ing” the Western Sub­urbs Weekly’s front page story.

“It is a very odd man­ner to start this process with­out more in­for­ma­tion or a timetable for con­sul­ta­tion,” he said.

“The Friends of Bold Park and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups do not want a high school in Bold Park or Bush For­ever land, and the peo­ple as­so­ci­ated with pro­tect­ing the dunes don’t want it built at Fred Bur­ton (Park). I sus­pect they may have let the cat out of the bag in this man­ner so there will be a public back­lash against en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns of the other sites, which would make the old City Beach Se­nior High School site cho­sen by de­fault.”

The for­mer high school was closed a decade ago be­cause of “fall­ing stu­dent num­bers”, with the In­ter­na­tional School of WA (ISWA) cur­rently leas­ing it from the gov­ern­ment.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Peter Col­lier said the Gov­ern­ment would work with the Town of Cam­bridge, Church­lands MLA Sean L’Es­trange and the western sub­urbs com­mu­nity “over the next six months” to de­ter­mine a lo­ca­tion for the new high school.

“The most prac­ti­cal op­tion is the old Skyline drive-in,” Mr Col­lier said.

“Although we have had ini­tial dis­cus­sions with the In­ter­na­tional School of WA, we have no in­ten­tion of mov­ing them. But ul­ti­mately when their lease runs out, that is some­thing we need to con­sider.”

Mr Withers agreed that the old high school was the “most ob­vi­ous site”, but reach­ing an agree­ment with ISWA would take a long time.

“That would push the open­ing back even fur­ther, and see more de­mount­a­bles pile up at Shen­ton Col­lege and Church­lands,” he said.

Mr Col­lier said the Gov­ern­ment had a strat­egy to “ease the squeeze” on Perth’s big­gest state schools, start­ing with a $38.8 mil­lion ex­pan­sion to Church­lands Se­nior High School by 2018.

Pic­ture: Matt Jelonek­mu­ni­ d444938

Cam­bridge Mayor Si­mon Withers with daugh­ters Phoebe and Han­nah.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d444464

Claire An­drews, Cam­bridge Mayor Si­mon Withers and Cr Corinne MacRae get ready for the Lake Mon­ger Mar­kets.

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