COUNCIL BACKS NEW HIGH SCHOOL BID
Urgent review is called for
THE current Queensland Government has no plans to build a state high school in the Cannonvale area., despite mounting evidence that would indicate a need
Division 2 Councillor Ron Petterson has been researching the issue for almost a year and took his findings to a Whitsunday Regional Council meeting last week.
“Our population growth is marked at higher than the state average and the predictions are that our population is projected to increase by 18% in the 10 years between 2016 and 2026 with more than a third of that growth predicted in the Cannonvale area,” he said.
“The 4802 postcode area constitutes 36.9% of the Whitsunday region’s total population, it just makes sense that we need to have a high school and stop putting kids on buses (to Proserpine).”
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan brought the issue to the Queensland parliament in 2013, asking then education minister John-Paul Langbroek about the need for a new high school in Cannonvale.
Mr Langbroek replied that 1300 students were projected to be enrolled at Proserpine State High School by 2031 and as such the Education Department had no plans to establish a new secondary school in Cannonvale as it would detract from enrolments at PSHS.
However, Mr Petterson said 2017 school enrolment figures showed PSHS already had 1050 students enrolled, with annual growth in enrolments likely to push enrolment figures significantly above 1300 well before 2031.
While Cr Petterson’s motion for council to lobby the Queensland Government to urgently review the need for a high school in the area was passed unanimously, a spokesperson for the Department of Education and Training confirmed there were no immediate plans to proceed. “A review by the Department of the local area indicates that Proserpine State High School has sufficient spare capacity within existing buildings, or through expansion of the existing school, to accommodate population growth over the short to medium term,” the spokesperson said.
“We will continue to monitor population and enrolment growth in this area and review planning as required.”
Cr Petterson said he wanted to present his research to the Queensland Government to show that the situation had changed since the last review.
“First thing we want to do is for them to show us their research which is up to date with mine,” he said.
“If they are different to what I’m seeing or the same as what I’m seeing then I want to know, why aren’t we building a high school?”
Whitsunday MP Jason Costigan conceded a Cannonvale state high school may not be required in the short to medium term, but nonetheless had some criticism for Labor.
“There is no longer a Schools Planning Commission so the proper process in terms of identifying need in high growth areas is now a sloppy approach,” he said.
“The idea of a Cannonvale high school shouldn’t be dismissed but we need to fill up empty homes between Mackay and Bowen and bring more people into the immediate community, then you have a stronger case for another school.”
Mr Costigan has asked Education Minister Kate Jones to confirm what plans are in place for the Cannonvale community.
GROWING AREA: Division 2 Councillor Ron Petterson wants to lobby the Queensland Government to urgently review the need for a high school in Cannonvale. INSET: A general artist’s impression of a high school.