Pottsville parents upset stats don’t point to new school
POTTSVILLE parents pushing for a new high school in the growing coastal village were disappointed this week following talks with a demographer from NSW Education.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest fulfilled an election promise by inviting the parent group to a meeting with NSW Education Department demographer Joe Lantz at the community hall on Tuesday.
Mr Lantz supplied a five-page report on enrolment statistics, explaining to parents the numbers didn’t stack up for a new Pottsville High School due to a general decline in enrolments in the Tweed.
The Tweed Shire group of school is now recognised as a ‘cluster’ by the Education Department for long term, 15 year long planning, for all state primary and secondary schools.
Between 2010 and 2015 Kingscliff registered a loss of 176 students; Tweed River showed no change, while Banora Point reduced from 670 students in 2010, to 506 in 2015, and is predicted to significantly drop until 2031.
“Part of the cluster plan might mean we have to ask some difficult questions,” Mr Lantz told parents. “The magic number is providing a full curriculum, and that reflects in over 1000 students at the school,” he said.
“Banora point should have never been built,” responded campaigner Matthew France. “That’s where we get frustrated, where you’ve built schools where to your own standards the schools shouldn’t exist.”
Campaigner Korinne Szandala criticised cluster planning after the meeting was over.
“You can say on the one hand we need 1000 kids for a school and on the other hand you can say but ‘we’re looking at from a cluster’, so we don’t need a school. We can never win.”
Due to community concerns, Mr Lantz and Mr Provest met with Tweed Shire Council on Monday, and the Education Department will decide by September if they will buy land at Seabreeze, Pottsville, for a potential future school.
Challenges lie with Metricon’s application to re-zone the land marketed initially as a future site for an educational facility, because its now before the NSW Land and Environment Court.
Mr Provest applauded the parents for “having an active involvement in the community”, and said the meeting delivered on his promise for an “open and transparent” meeting with the highest ranking school planners.
“At the end of the day, sometimes there can be issues about the answer, but my whole goal is to create the greatest educational opportunity for the kids of the Tweed,” Mr Provest said.
Pottsville Community Association president Chris Cherry said the meeting was positive.
“The figures we received today were a start, they identified Pottsville and Kingscliff growth in primary school demand over the next 15 years as the largest growth areas in the shire,” he said.
Enrolments were predicted to increase from 703 to 895 at Pottsville, from 2015 to 2031, and from 532 to 825 at Kingscliff.
The Education Department uses Australian Bureau of Statistic, Medicare, as well as and State and Local Government planning data to make and re-assess forecasts.
The Education Department has begun talks with Principals, P&C representatives, and the council, as part of the Tweed cluster plan.