Lismore MP Janelle Saffin, Richmond MP Justine Elliot, councillor Reece Byrnes, opposition leader Anthony Albanese, students and community stakeholders outside Murwillumbah East Public School on November 20 protesting the State Government's four year $100 million plan to amalgamate four schools. Photo: Jessica Lamb
Lismore MP Janelle Saffin, Richmond MP Justine Elliot, councillor Reece Byrnes, opposition leader Anthony Albanese, students and community stakeholders outside Murwillumbah East Public School on November 20 protesting the State Government's four year $100 million plan to amalgamate four schools. Photo: Jessica Lamb

Super school demountables ring alarm bells for M’Bah

THE ADDITION of demountables to Ballina Coast High has fuelled the fire under opposition to the State Government’s plan to amalgamate four Murwillumbah schools.

Politicians supporting the controversial four-year project to amalgamate Murwillumbah East Public School, Wollumbin High School and Murwillumbah Public School onto a redeveloped campus at the site of the current Murwillumbah High School have relied on the success of the amalgamation of Ballina High and Southern Cross School into Ballina Coast High.

The recent installation of demountable buildings just two years after the $40 million super school Ballina campus was built, has stakeholders against the Murwillumbah rollout shaking their heads.

In a letter sent on Wednesday from all four Murwillumbah school’s Parents and Citizens Association presidents to the Education Minister Sarah Mitchell, the “apparent failure of early planning” in Ballina has been used as an example of why “transparent consultation” is needed.

While the P&C’s plea welcomes the investment in local infrastructure and education, the letter “declares disappointment” in the lack of community consultation and calls for a halt to the amalgamation project going forward until consultation has occurred.

The letter also criticises the Murwillumbah project’s virtual information sessions as inadequate, making “no attempt(s) to address the concerns raised around the consultation and planning process up to this point”.

Retired teacher and former principal of Murwillumbah High School Barry Miller said he had also hit a roadblock over the consultation process.

“I have sent off 16 questions and heard nothing,” he said.

The correspondence ends with an invitation to “come to our community to sit down together, share with us the evidence underpinning the proposal, listen and respond to our questions, queries and concerns, and together find the best way forward to enhance public education for all children in Murwillumbah”.

They are yet to hear a response from the Minister.

In a statement earlier this week, a Department of Education spokesman said the enrolment growth at Ballina was linked to the success and the positive view the community had of that school.

The P&Cs’ concerns were echoed by a motion passed by the Tweed Shire Council on Thursday night for the mayor to write to premier Gladys Berejiklian, deputy premier John Barilaro and Tweed MP Geoff Provest expressing “extreme concern” about the project.

The motion also sought to call on the State Government to defer the plan until “adequate” community consultation had taken place.



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