School Sites to be Sold – Another Broken Promise

The list of broken promises by the Stanhope Government on school closures continues to grow. The latest is the Government’s reversal on selling off school sites.

The Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, told regional consultation meetings held in June that school sites would not be closed. For example, he gave a firm commitment to the South-East Belconnen regional meeting on 27 June that ‘there will be no land sales as a result of school closures’ (Canberra Times, 28 June 2006).

Now the Chief Minister has unilaterally broken this commitment. He told the Canberra Times (5 August, 2006) that the Government will likely sell unused school land for residential development and aged-care facilities.

So, the Government’s commitment not to sell school sites lasted only about 5 weeks.

Continue reading “School Sites to be Sold – Another Broken Promise”

The Case for an Independent Public Inquiry on School Closures

The Government’s Towards 2020 Plan is in tatters and the process of consultation has become a shambles. The Government is ignoring its legal obligations to consider the full educational, financial and social impact of its Plan. Obfuscation and deceit has become the modus operandi of a Government under pressure. It is time for an independent public inquiry to clean up the mess.

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Minister Refuses to Divulge Savings Figures

The Education Minister, Andrew Barr, continues to deny important data to school communities. He has refused to provide detailed data on school costs and savings for each individual school proposed for closure or amalgamation. In effect, the Minister’s refusal and stated reasons for not supplying the data demonstrates that the Government’s school closure plan is based on incomplete and inadequate data.

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Labor is Divided On School Closures

The ALP Branch Conference held at the weekend has revealed a party and a Government that is deeply divided over the Towards 2020 school closure plan. The Conference vote against a moratorium on the Plan was only 100 to 96. The two previous Education Ministers, Simon Corbell and Katy Gallagher, voted for a moratorium as did some Government backbenchers.

This is a major division that threatens the future of the Government. The Chief Minister has his head in the sand if he thinks otherwise.

The division in ALP ranks has been created by the resistance and protest of school communities and parents across Canberra at the Government’s plan.

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Increased Student Bus Travel Costs Will Cut Savings from School Closures

The Government has failed to provide any information on the impact of its proposed school closures on student bus travel or on ACTION costs and revenues. The Education Minister, Andrew Barr, has asserted at regional consultation meetings that increases in student bus travel will be met by alterations to existing services. Continue reading “Increased Student Bus Travel Costs Will Cut Savings from School Closures”

Dissembling in the Assembly

The Minister for Education, Mr. Andrew Barr, was caught out under forensic questioning about information on the shift to private schools in the Estimates Committee hearings on Education on 28 June.

The Minister was requested to provide information on why families transfer from the government school system to the private sector. He inadvertently revealed that the Government had not done any planning on the impact of school closures on the shift to private schools because the information on why families move has to be collated from individual schools. Continue reading “Dissembling in the Assembly”

Minister Says He Will Provide Savings Estimates

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. Continue reading “Minister Says He Will Provide Savings Estimates”

Public Education Under Threat From Budget Cuts

SOS rejects the Government’s cuts to public education as constituting a major threat to the future of public education in the ACT. Massive school closures and massive cuts to secondary teacher numbers will undermine the quality of government schooling. Rather than renew public education as the Government asserts, the cuts will drive more people into the private sector. They will also undermine social inclusion and equity in school education. Continue reading “Public Education Under Threat From Budget Cuts”