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Local Schools Look To Build Up And Out, West

By Marcus Braid on April 30, 2015 in News

Photo: Ed Rooney

Photo: Ed Rooney

The rising enrolment numbers at Eastern Suburbs public schools has raised questions over space constraints and overcrowding.

Bruce Notley-Smith, the freshly re-elected State Member for Coogee, said local schools were currently going through a peak period.

“Some of these schools have been around for up to 150 years, so it’s not as if we’ve been left stranded at any particular time not having the sufficient room,” he said.

“There are peaks and troughs, so at the moment there’s a peak. I think the numbers will start to stabilise over the next five to ten years.

“I think if you were to build any new schools in the Eastern Suburbs, they’re going to have to be high-rise schools, because there’s just not the available land and it’s not economical to acquire large spaces of land.”

Mr Notley-Smith and Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, rubber-stamped new classrooms to be built at local schools, with 20 new rooms at Rainbow Street Public and ten at Randwick Public School. The $14 million development has received the seal of approval from the Randwick Public P&C Executive.

“It’s great news because it’s a purpose built building right next door that’s currently being used for distance language,” Randwick Public P&C Secretary Leanne Bergan said.

“It’s not serving the local population and could potentially just be operated from an office block, from what I understand.

“We’ve got four demountables that went up in the playground over the Christmas holidays. That took basketball court space away and made for a lot of congestion around near the canteen area. It’s really busy and potentially dangerous.”

Ms Bergan said it had become impossible to enrol siblings into Randwick Public, which has seen a rise from 804 students in 2014 to 844 this year.

“The trouble is that a lot of the buildings are heritage listed, so they can’t even build up,” she said.

“Ultimately, schools are going to have to go up. If apartment buildings are going up, it’s just going to have to become a bit of a reality.”

A group of community-minded parents and supporters concerned about the shortage of public secondary school options for families living in inner Sydney has established Community for Local Options for Secondary Education (CLOSE).

The group has been vocal that there is a shortage of public secondary school options, and current infrastructure is out of step with the population boom.

Mr Notley-Smith noted that with the coast as a borderline in the Eastern Suburbs, expansion needed to happen westwards.

“There is really only one way you can expand and that’s to the west,” he said. “The schools along the coast such as Bronte Public, Clovelly Public and Coogee Public are on very limited sites.

“There’s just no room for expansion there. It’s the schools to the west that will absorb that expansion, which is Rainbow Street Public and Randwick Public.”