The state government is pushing ahead with plans to construct a new ‘super’ secondary school catering for about 1,000 secondary students.
To be located on the current Ballina High School site, the newly constructed school will merge the existing school and the secondary section of nearby Southern Cross School into one campus.
But the project has not been without its critics, most notably Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith, who before the election described the ‘super school’ model as ‘an imperfect solution to classroom shortages in Ballina’.
‘While we welcome the additional funds, the scheme will result in over-crowding with little open space. This will cause and damage teaching and learning standards to suffer,’ she said.
At the time Ms Smith called for ‘genuine consultation with teachers and parents before any changes are made to public high schools in Ballina.’
But Ms Smith told Echonetdaily today that she had since met with the minister and senior departmental executives on the issue and had received some reassurances about the project.
‘The government’s offered they would build a purpose-built sports centre that would belong to the community but the school will have access to it,’ she said.
‘I think people are very concerned about the transition arrangements but it would appear the principals are on board with the plan,’ Ms Smith added.
The education department has now announced a series of consultation sessions
The Ballina community is now being asked for its input into planning for the new school, which is due to open in Term 1 2019, in a series of sessions beginning in mid-October.
The department says it will cover a range of ideas and issues, including the new school’s facilities and features, its identity, and opportunities for community partnerships.
‘It will also seek input on the transition to the new school, the future of the Southern Cross School K-12 site, and shared use of facilities,’ the department said in a statement today.
This stage of consultation will lead to the development of draft concept plans for the new school, due for public release in 2016.
The department says that the larger student population the merged school will enable it to offer wider educational opportunities on one site.
The arrangement will also create more space on the site of Southern Cross School K-12 for classrooms for students in K to 6, and more space for the distance education centre, which operates from the site.
Consultation workshop times
- Ballina High School and Southern Cross K-12 P&C groups: Tuesday 13 October, 6pm – 8.30pm at Southern Cross K-12 School
- Southern Cross K-12 parents and carers: Wednesday 14 October, 6pm – 8.30pm at Southern Cross K-12 School
- Ballina High School parents and carers: Thursday 15 October, 6pm – 8.30pm at Ballina High School
- Community (eg pre-school, primary, tertiary parents, carers and staff, local business, residents, educational advocacy groups): Monday 19 October, 6pm-8.30pm at Southern Cross K-12 School
- Pre-school and primary parents and carers: Tuesday 20 October, 6pm – 8.30pm, Ballina High School
- Ballina Yarn-Up: Monday 26 October, 5pm – 6.30pm, Ballina Aboriginal Child and Family Centre
- Cabbage Tree Island Yarn-Up: Tuesday 27 October, 5pm – 6.30pm, Cabbage Tree Island School
Intending participants are asked to register their interest by providing their full name and preferred workshop by email [email protected]/au