State Member for Caloundra Mark McArdle has this week written to the Education Minister* seeking a schedule of keys dates for the construction and opening of Baringa State High School amid growing uncertainty in the community.
It comes as a number of concerned parents have contacted Mr. McArdle about the lack of information available from the Department of Education about the school’s expected opening date. Fears that the opening could be pushed back were further fuelled last week when students returned to Primary classes in Baringa to find the site of the new high school remained untouched and overgrown with vegetation.
“I have had many concerned and, quite rightly, upset parents contact my office this past week wanting to know exactly when the new High School would open,” Mr McArdle said.
“I wrote a letter to Minister Grace Grace today asking for answers to a number of important questions the community has raised regarding Baringa State High School. While the Minister this week announced that the tender has be awarded for the school’s construction, there has been very little communication with the community about exactly when in 2021 the school will be open and when each Year level would be open.
“The questions I have posed to the Minister are as follows:
What month in 2020 will construction begin on the high school.
What month in 2021 will the high school open for classes.
As per my letter to you on 7 November 2019, when will each year level open. The Department of Education website only states that Year 7 and 8 will open in 2021. When are Years 9, 10, 11 and 12 to open.
In your media release of February 4 2020, you state that the school “— will be built in three stages—”. Can you confirm what is to be built in these three stages and when each stage will open.
What month is a principal expected to be appointed.
How long after the appointment of the Principal will enrolments open to the High School.
Will the high school be a S.T.E.M. school and what facilities will be available to achieve that.
Will the Department of Education and The Department of Transport be extending the school bus service or put on a new school bus service that extends into Aura Stage 2 and if so when is this service expected to commence.
“It is shocking that so little information has been made available to the community about the school. These points will provide the concrete answers a family requires when planning for the children’s future.
“Minister, when will Baringa State High School open its doors? There are 12months in a calendar year and the difference between January 2021 and December 2021 is enough to change a student’s entire educational plan.
“If parents do not know exactly if or when their children will be able to attend Baringa State High School they will need to make difficult decisions about where to send their children to school.
“The options they are left with include, sending their children to schools further away which adds to daily travel time, forcing their high school aged children to change schools after a few years when Baringa finally opens, or completely moving out of the area to be closer to a school that is open. Not to mention, what happens when young children can attend the High School in future years but older siblings cannot,” Mr McArdle said.
Debbie Hardie, who in 2018 led the community petition to bring the school opening forward to 2020 said that unease among parents is beginning to bubble over.
“It was devastating that our petition to have the school opening brought forward was not accepted by the Minister, but we were assured that the school would be open for classes in 2021. I want to believe this is true, but we have been given so little information and seen no action on site,” Mrs Hardie said.
“We need to the Minister to confirm that the high school will be student-ready at the beginning of the 2021 school year, in January for Term 1.
“We reluctantly accepted that we had to begin our children’s high school journey with the disruption of starting at one school in year 7 and then changing again to be near home in year 8, but with no action on the construction it doesn’t leave us parents with the confidence that it will be ready for day one of the 2021 school term.
“High school is such a big step for children and the parents, and feeling unsettled is not a way we want to be,” Mrs Hardie concluded.
“All this community is asking for is some certainty for their children,” Mr, McArdle said.
“I don’t think it is too much to ask to make them privy to what is happening with their high school instead of being kept in the dark,” Mr McArdle concluded.
*Letters to Education Minister Grace Grace sent on 7 November 2019 and 6 February 2020 below