COUN­CIL BACKS NEW HIGH SCHOOL BID

Ur­gent re­view is called for

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Ja­cob Wil­son ja­cob.wil­son@whit­sun­day­times.com.au

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.

PHOTO: JA­COB WIL­SON

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.

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