Anger at school plan­ning de­lays

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News - By LISA THOMAS

WA’s peak body rep­re­sent­ing the par­ents of public school stu­dents has asked Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Peter Col­lier to ex­plain why plans for a new sec­ondary school in the western sub­urbs were not made ear­lier.

WA Coun­cil of State School Or­gan­i­sa­tions pres­i­dent Kylie Catto claimed the min­is­ter knew two years ago about overcrowding in the western sub­urbs and the need for an­other school, but noth­ing was done.

Mr Col­lier an­nounced last week that plans to build a new school to ac­com­mo­date 2000 stu­dents by 2019 had been pushed back by 10 years af­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions over the City Beach High School site were re­jected.

Ms Catto said the State Govern­ment’s plan­ning poli­cies needed to be re­viewed.

“The ques­tion has to be asked why this sit­u­a­tion has got to this stage and what aspects of the plan­ning poli­cies need to be re­viewed,” she said.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tions of a suit­able site have been un­der­taken over the past few years and the num­bers were con­tin­u­ing to grow then, so why didn’t the ex­pan­sions for Shen­ton Col­lege and Church­lands go ahead back then?

“It is un­ac­cept­able that this is go­ing to drag out for so long, and at the ex­pense of stu­dents.”

The Govern­ment al­lo­cated $90 mil­lion in the State Bud­get to ex­pand Church­lands Se­nior High School and Shen­ton Col­lege to help with overcrowding.

Mr Col­lier said Shen­ton Col­lege and Church­lands SHS had the ca­pac­ity to deal with the an­tic­i­pated 2000-stu­dent in­crease, con­tra­dict­ing com­ments made in a Bud­get Es­ti­mates hear­ing in Par­lia­ment last year, where he said both schools were al­ready “bur­geon­ing at the seams”.

“Build­ing a new high school on other western sub­urbs land has not been ruled out and the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion is con­tin­u­ing to work on al­ter­na­tive sites,” he said.

“With $90 mil­lion in ex­ten­sions at Church­lands and Shen­ton, both schools will have the ca­pac­ity to man­age well in ex­cess of stu­dent en­rol­ments an­tic­i­pated in 2019.”

Mr Col­lier said ear­lier plans to use Fred Burton Park as a site for the school were prob­lem­atic given the en­vi­ron­men­tal and com­mu­nity con­cerns.

Town of Cam­bridge coun­cil­lor Corinne MacRae said the Govern­ment had some ex­plain­ing to do.

“Last year, we were told there was an ur­gent need for a new high school, now it has ef­fec­tively been can­celled: 2027 is about three elec­tions away – out of sight, out of mind,” she said.

“Wem­b­ley and West Leed­erville pri­mary schools are over­flow­ing, Floreat as well.

“Should those stu­dents look for­ward to a public high school ed­u­ca­tion in de­mount­a­bles on what used to be Church­lands SHS play­ing fields?”

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Locked out... the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment is fac­ing ques­tions about why it de­layed plan­ning for a new school in the western sub­urbs.

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