Media Release – School Sites Should Not be Sold

Save Our Schools today called on the ACT Government to retain closed school sites for community use and possible re-opening.

SOS spokesperson, Trevor Cobbold, said that the affected communities should have a say in decisions about the future use of the sites.

“These school sites provide essential public facilities. In many instances, school sites provide the only available recreational space in a suburb. Selling the sites will reduce public space for recreational and leisure activities of local neighbourhoods.

“The sites should also be retained for possible future use as a school. Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last year show that new births and fertility rates are increasing in suburbs where schools have closed or will close in the next two years. There are real signs of urban renewal in many older suburbs.

“For example, the fertility rates for Flynn and Chifley (Melrose PS) are 2.29 and 2.22 respectively, compared to the average for the ACT of 1.63. The number of births in Chifley increased from 25 in 2000 to 38 in 2005, an increase of over 50 per cent while births in Flynn increased from 48 to 62, an increase of nearly 30 per cent. Births also increased by over 30 per cent in Rivett and Weston.

“It would be a tragedy if schools were to be demolished now only to find that a school is needed in future years to cope with larger numbers of school-age children. It would also cost the ACT taxpayer millions of dollars.”

Mr. Cobbold said that it was imperative that the Government adhere to its own regulations in assessing the future of the sites and that the affected communities be involved in decisions about the sites.

“The surplus property guidelines of the Department of Territory and Municipal Services require a property evaluation to be carried out for each site, including a cost-benefit analysis of proposed options. The Government should adhere to these guidelines. It should also publish the evaluations for community consultation and include the relevant communities in decisions about future use of these sites.”

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