There’s hope a visit from a parliamentary committee will spur the State Government to take action on critical infrastructure issues at Gillieston Public School.
The Wednesday visit came after parents launched a petition in May, later that month travelling to Sydney to address the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the planning and delivery of school infrastructure.
NSW MP Mark Latham is chairing the committee, and toured the school.
He’s described what he saw as “disappointing”.
“You’ve got what used to be an old country school, that’s been overwhelmed by population growth and new suburbs springing out of the ground surrounding the school, but the facilities haven’t kept pace,” he said.
“They’re not connected to the sewer, they haven’t got a proper security fence on their boundary. They’ve got 12 classrooms, ten of which are demountables. You’ve got what’s supposed to be a school hall in a pretty run down demountable building, doubling as the canteen.”
Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison couldn’t attend because of illness, but has been pushing the Government on the issue for half a decade.
She says, it’s important to have representatives outside of the Government and the Opposition investigating the issue.
“Making it part of the cross-party processes in the Legislative Council has meant that the Government can’t hide from it,” Ms Aitchison said.
“There are Government members on that committee. Unfortunately I didn’t see that they were attending yesterday, but I’m hoping that they will actually take note of what was observed by the committee.”
The inquiry’s heard more than 100 submissions regarding schools and their communities right across the State.
Mr Latham says it points to a lack of preparedness on the Government’s part.
“They’ve been overwhelmed by the population growth, but good planning and knowledge would say that those suburbs are coming, you know that at a local and state government level,” he said.
“It’s also in a Labor electorate, it’s not a Government seat, so maybe there’s that kind of political neglect.
“Either way, it’s disgraceful. I can’t imagine there’s a school that’s been left further behind in terms of new appropriate facilities.”
According to Government projections, the population in the area is slated to at least double in the next 20 years.
School Infrastructure NSW CEO Anthony Manning also attended the visit, saying the organisation intended to begin community consultation later this year, as well as address pressing concerns such as the lack of a fence.
Mr Latham says, he’ll hold the Department to any promises.
“We’ll be making a report to the Government and the Parliament about Gillieston and the situation there, making strong recommendations to fast-track the masterplan and get the capital funding in for new buildings that make it a school that you’d want for a community like that,” he said.
“I mean, people have invested a lot in their new housing, but they haven’t got a new school.”