The Minister for Education told the Weston Creek regional consultation meeting held at Stromlo HS on 21 June that he will provide the Government’s estimates of savings from school closures for each school in the ACT proposed for closure. He also committed the Government to providing a break up of the savings according to the major components in each case. He told the meeting that the major components of savings were from site-based salaries such as those of the principal and bursar; utilities costs such as water, telecommunications, electricity and heating; and maintenance.
The savings estimates are critical to the Government’s case for closing schools. It is a gross incompetence that they have not been made available from the start of the consultation, despite the Minister’s statements about being committed to an open consultation. Their unavailability precludes public scrutiny of the Government’s decisions and is hampering school efforts to prepare their case.
The Minister also made some specific commitments to families in the Weston Creek region. He stated that all families would be able to enroll their child at a school of their choice in the region following the closure of Rivett and Weston pre-schools and primary schools. This followed a question from the audience that families may not get their school of choice because Arawang and Chapman primary schools are close to capacity.
This commitment may involve additional Government expenditure not provided in the Budget. If Arawang and Chapman are over-enrolled, the Government will need to provide portable classrooms to accommodate the additional students. The transport and installation of portable classrooms involve substantial costs.
The Minister also committed the Government to building a new hall at Chapman PS.