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New school for the west side

Sign up here to receive updates on the community consultation and planning for the new school. If you have specific thoughts about a location, or other ideas or concerns, please contact my office directly via [email protected] or 3737 4100.

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Background Information:

After years of campaigning, in July 2020 we finally received a commitment from the State government for a new primary school in the inner west, to open on day 1, 2023. The school will include general learning areas, specialist spaces, multimedia spaces, special education facilities and outdoor learning areas. This is supported by $65 million in funding for building work in the 2020 Budget. We also know that there is extra funding to purchase land, drawn from the State-wide pool of $146 million this financial year, with more available next financial year.

Why we need a new school

Since before I was elected, I've been hearing from locals that we desperately need a new school to properly address overcrowding. Classrooms are full, pool and library time is limited, before and after school care services have long wait lists and demountable classrooms are being erected on school ovals, encroaching on students’ play area. The west side is growing rapidly, and we need long-term planning and infrastructure to keep up with development and densification.

There's still work to do, but whether you came to a community forum, contacted my office, shared your story, signed the petition or helped keep the pressure up on social media, you helped demonstrate just how urgently we need a new school here on the west side, and it paid off. 

Now my priority is working with the community, the Minister and the Department of Education, to ensure the planning process for Maiwar's new school is as consultative and effective as possible. 

My guiding principles

Consultation about the location of the new school formally concluded in February 2021, however a site has not been selected yet. 

After talking to hundreds of local residents about this issue I’ve developed a set of guiding principles about the location of the new school. They are: 

  1. Consultation: The location must be based on detailed community consultation with local residents by the Department of Education. 
  2. P-12: The new school should be P-12 if this is possible based on space. The State government has committed to a primary school, but we know that Indooroopilly State High and Kelvin Grove are both very full and that many west side high school students face a lengthy commute. 
  3. Taringa: The best general location would be around Taringa to fill the large gap in existing catchments formerly occupied by Taringa State School which was sold in 1997, and which would take the pressure off Toowong, Ironside and Indooroopilly State Schools. 
  4. Traffic and transport: A new school will cut traffic overall by allowing more families to walk, cycle and catch public transport, but the site must be located conveniently for public and active transport connections to minimise impact on local residents and maximise walking, cycling and public transport usage among students. 
  5. Public green space: There must be no net loss of public green space including parks and bushland. Any loss of green space must be compensated with new parkland or urban bushland in the electorate. 
  6. Property acquisitions: As a priority, the State government should acquire commercial properties or vacant properties, and should avoid compulsory resumption of existing homes where possible. 
  7. Flooding: As far as possible, the school should not be built in a flood zone. 
  8. Vertical school and green space: A “vertical school” is a viable option as long as students still have safe and convenient access to outdoor green space.
  9. Catchments and grandfathering: Catchment boundaries for existing schools must be “grandfathered” to allow children to remain at their current school, and to allow children with older siblings at an existing school to attend that school if they wish. 

Subject to community feedback, I think the most logical choice is for the school to be built in Taringa, because it's a growing suburb, relatively accessible via public transport, and still doesn't have a school (after the old Taringa State School was closed in 1996). A new P-12 school in Taringa would help take pressure off Toowong, Ironside and Indooroopilly schools which have all struggled with overcrowding. 

Consultation and next steps

The consultation processes for new schools in Queensland is coordinated by Building Future Schools, as part of the Department of Education. Throughout January and February Building Future Schools conducted an online survey and ran four in-person "drop-in" sessions to hear from residents. This initial consultation focused on the location for a new school, and proposed just one specific location- some land near ISHS. 

As well as the location, down the track the Department's consultation will also cover master planning (i.e. the medium to long term design), the catchment, the name of the school and the culture and vision for the school. Once the principal is appointed, there will be an opportunity for locals to meet them and work together on a vision for the new school. 

One of my priorities as the local MP in Maiwar,  is ensuring residents get a real say in this process. Over the last few months I've been working hard to hear and amplify the voice of the community to the Department. I don't think their consultation has been adequate so far, and it hasn't given residents an opportunity to gather and genuinely consider alternative sites for the school. 

In addition to the Department’s consultation, I held my own community meetings to hear from you during February 2021. I've also been communicating with hundreds of residents via email. Based on these conversations, I made my own formal submission to the Department, which you can read in full here

The Department's proposed location at Indooroopilly State High School

In its initial survey, the Department has proposed building a new primary school on the site of Indooroopilly State High School, likely on the western side at Ward St and Canarvon St. It seems obvious the government wants to build on this site because it will be cheaper and easier for them to meet their own January 2023 deadline. Information released via RTI has shown that the Department has been planning on this location since at least 2018- which means locals were right to feel the consultation about this location was a bit cynical. 

There are some significant issues with the ISHS site, so I have asked the Department to continue the search. The issues with the ISHS site include:

  • Extra traffic at peak times in an area which already has significant congestion from St Peters, Brigidine, Holy Family and Indooroopilly State High.  
  • Keeping access for local residents to the ISHS oval outside school hours, as well as concerns about reducing play space for students.
  • Loss of space for future expansion at ISHS if and when it is eventually required. 

My position is that doing this right is more important than doing it quickly. Securing the best location will help our community for decades, so I'll be urging the government to make sure we don't rush the process for the sake of sticking to the Minister's deadline. I have made this very clear to the Minister for Education via in-person meetings with her, and in writing.

The site of ISHS is the only location the Department has proposed, but they have looked at a few other locations. At my request the Department have agreed to publish a list of the other sites they are considering. They are seeking input from local residents on alternative sites. 

Moving QASMT to Coorparoo

During my meeting with Minister Grace Grace in February, she identified that the Department was considering moving the Queensland Academy of Science, Maths and Technology (QASMT) to Coorparoo, and locating the new primary school at the Toowong school. There's been widespread opposition to this proposal from the school community, and I've written to the Minister sharing these concerns. I've made it clear to the Department of Education that they need to re-open consultation on all the potential locations they are considering, and give any impacted residents a real opportunity to contribute to the discussion.  

More information and alternative sites 

The Department of Education has failed so far to publish any detailed demographic information, data about enrolment projections or other supporting material, despite a number of commitments to do so. 

Click here to read some basic information which my office has compiled about local schools, as well as some alternative sites which locals have suggested. 

Traffic issues around Lambert Rd

Regardless of where the new school is built, I am committed to working with Council to improve pedestrian safety and improve public and active transport in the Lambert Rd precinct. Click here to read more information about my proposed improvements. If you have kids at St Peters, ISHS, Holy Family or Brigidine College, please take this quick survey to help us understand more about traffic in the area: www.michaelberkman.com.au/school_traffic_survey 

 

 

 


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