’White hot outrage’ over superschool proposal
FOR Murwillumbah residents, their schools are a part of their history, sense of community and pride.
With the shock announcement earlier this month, that the State Government will rollout a $100 million four-year plan to amalgamate four schools onto one mega campus, many fear that part of the identity will be taken away.
Gathered outside Murwillumbah East Public School, one of the sites tipped to be closed, stakeholders were out in force to make their "white hot outrage" known last Friday.
Their fight has now become part of a Labor Party campaign slamming the project after opposition leader Anthony Albanese and State Lismore MP Janelle Saffin and Federal Richmond MP Justine Elliot held a press conference on what is a state issue.
HOW WE HAVE COVERED THIS SO FAR:
- JOB CUTS: Claims 10 staff could be lost to mega school
- Devastated students say 'we don't want your super school'
- PEOPLE POWER: How community plans to fight 'mega school'
- Super school demountables ring alarm bells for M'Bah
- REVEALED: Govt secretly planned $100M project for months
- Teachers 'outraged' over decision to close schools
- $100M super school 'certain doom' for education
- Shock development plan raises questions about jobs, land
- BREAKING: $100M plan to combine education campuses
Lisa Tiffen, a local whose children followed in her footsteps attending Murwillumbah East Public School highlighted the lack of evidence mega schools increased academic standards.
She raised also concerns about the amount of green space which would be on the new campus, what a 'health hub' actually was and if the new facility had been planned to accommodate the growth of the area.
"Murwillumbah High School already has spaces allocated for all areas mentioned like sports, performing arts and kitchens for hospitality - will these be refurbished or is it necessary to knock them down and rebuild?" she said.
"How are Murwillumbah High's buildings different to the unsuitable ones for conversion on other sites?
"I am all for upgrading classrooms and school grounds but I really think merging all four schools on the site is not a sensible idea looking at future growth in Murwillumbah and tweed valley."
She suggested if only the high schools were merged and the primary schools merged on a different site like where Wollumbin High School is now, the outcomes might be better.
Other locals like Barry and Paula Miller are Murwillumbah locals who have watched their own children go through the education system since the 80s.
Barry is a former high school principal at Murwillumbah High School as well as Byron High School.
He remembers teaching at Murwillumbah High in the 80s when there were 1300 students and after consultation there was a decision to split the school and create Wollumbin High School.
Ms Miller said it was insulting the Education Minister had labelled their concerns "misinformation" in the media as the couple had sent a list of questions through the project's consultation website and not received a response.
"It's insulting their form of consultation is an online portal that doesn't respond to questions as well as a piece of paper mixed in with my junk mail in our letterbox," she said.
"The first thing I would do in this situation is ask the community what they want, not walk in and presume I know best.
"We know our town, it is not like Sydney and we don't want to be like Sydney.
"There is white hot community outrage about this."
Mr Miller said in the old days, if a child was having trouble at school with bullying or a suspension, the principal could ring up the school down the road and see if they could help. "You used to have the option of Wollumbin or Murwillumbah Highs and now that is gone," he said.