Shellharbour MP Anna Watson says the NSW government’s refusal to explore options for a new high school in Wollongong’s growing southern suburbs is a ‘‘one-finger salute’’ to her electorate.
Education Minister Adrian Piccoli was asked whether the government would look into the feasibility of a school in the Flinders or Shell Cove areas, in one of four questions on notice tabled in Parliament last month.
Mr Piccoli’s response, provided this week, was ‘‘no’’.
‘‘Flinders and Shell Cove are in the catchment area for Warilla High School. Warilla High School has spare capacity to accommodate students living in Flinders and Shell Cove,’’ Mr Piccoli said.
‘‘The Department of Education and Communities assesses the capacity, demand, and potential to redevelop an area’s existing high schools, prior to determining the need for a new high school.’’
Mr Piccoli was also asked to reveal the current number of enrolled students at each government high school in the Shellharbour electorate and the total capacity of enrolments at each.
The minister provided enrolment figures, but said: ‘‘there is no set enrolment capacity for a school’’.
Ms Watson said she was ‘‘shocked’’ the government had ruled out planning for a new school, labelling the decision ‘‘incredibly short-sighted’’.
‘‘The state government is essentially saying to families in the Flinders and Shell Cove areas that their only choice is to send their children to the already over-crowded Warilla High School,’’ she said.
‘‘I’m not going to accept this one-finger salute by the state government to my community.
“Warilla High School already has 1152 enrolled student for this year. The state government’s own statistics indicate that this is 309 more students than the other nearest local high school at Oak Flats.’’
Ms Watson said she would continue to fight for a new high school in the area.
‘‘At the very least, the state government should re-consider undertaking a scoping study for a new school,’’ she said.
‘‘This is essentially a costless planning exercise that any prudent state government looking at the future would undertake as a matter of course.’’