by Councillor Charles Jago
My Notice of Motion on high school places – written with input from the Concord High P&C – was approved at last night’s council meeting. Councillors agreed that Council would investigate commissioning a study on high school places to provide the basis to push the NSW Government to take action to address the chronic underfunding of Concord High School, and to ensure sufficient public high school places to meet the community’s needs.
A key issue was that Council was concerned about the money for a study, which would likely cost between $20,000 and $50,000, depending on the extent of cooperation from the New South Wales Department of Education. Some councillors had suggested to me that spending money on a study was up to the NSW government, and not within the remit of Council. I rejected this: according to the NSW Local Government Act, councils are fully entitled to act on any issue of concern to the community. However I acknowledged the concern amongst councillors about the cost.
In the discussion, Councillor Stephanie Di Pasqua suggested organising a roundtable with stakeholders including the Concord high School Parents and Citizens, local member John Sidoti MLA, the NSW Education Department, and so on. This may well be useful although no details were worked through on that.
The recommendations (different to those published in the Council agenda) were as follows:
- Notes that Concord High School is already experiencing substantial pressure on its current facilities, including 17 demountable classrooms.
- Expresses concern that Concord High School is already at capacity with the figures indicating the likely need for a second public high school within Canada Bay LGA, and writes again to the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, following up on previous unanswered correspondence.
- Investigates commissioning an independent, comprehensive study of future needs for primary and secondary school places within Canada Bay and nearby areas, taking into account committed and likely developments, with the study to be completed as quickly as practicable in liaison with Concord High School Parents and Citizens Association.
- Receives a report from the General Manager detailing costs and a funding source for the study referred to in 3 above.
- That in the event that Council proceeds to commission the study, the completed study will be submitted to Council for consideration with a view to Council calling upon the NSW Government to commit to implementing its recommendations.
- Commits to a campaign in liaison with the community to ensure that the NSW government provides adequate public high school student places for students in Canada Bay LGA.