Weston Creek Community Council
your local voice
Postal Address: PO Box 3701 Weston Creek 2611
Phone: 6288 8975
Fax: 6288 9179
Web Site http://www2.dynamite.com.au/wccc
Monthly Meeting of the WCCC
24th November 1999
Bob Sutherland welcomed the committee and members of the public. The guest speaker was Bill Stefaniak, Minister for Education and Community Services.
Apologies were received from Ken Galvin, Sue Galvin and some parents from Stromlo High as this meeting clashes with their P&C Assn. Meeting.
Bob Sutherland provided an overview of the issues surrounding schools in Weston Creek. Weston Creek lost Holder High and then had the merging of Waramanga/Fisher to form Arawang Primary. The treatment of schools in Weston Creek varies significantly from other small schools such as Lyons Primary, perhaps the residents of Weston Creek have not been vocal enough to prevent the changes. The moratorium on North Duffy/Holder expansion has prevented new housing developments and therefore the influx of school-age children.
The issue of difficulties of access to education facilities in Weston Creek was raised in the open discussion. The closing of either or any school north of Hindmarsh Drive may pose difficulties in the transport of children.
The schools impacted recently in Weston Creek include
Fisher Primary School ]
Waramanga Primary School ] combined into Arawang Primary
Holder Pre School
Holder High School
Weston Creek has been impacted more than any other district in respect of school changes and closures. It appears that the displaced school children have opted for the stability and confidence of private schools. The issue with Lyons primary remaining open as a very small school was perhaps the difficulty in access to other comparable local primary schools.
Politicians are not taking the initiative to close schools - but there is a cash incentive to consider amalgamation. Centralised school management system does have benefits for cost effectiveness and possibly better management and planning. A Weston Primary/Duffy Primary amalgamation has possibilities under a centralised management approach. Vulnerable schools are not just based on numbers of enrolments but also the running costs and the value of the land. These facets provide a number of scenarios for school amalgamations and closures.
Of the remaining schools Chapman Primary and Arawang are at or near capacity. The balance of the schools in Weston Creek are below capacity. In this environment a joint campus between Chapman and Rivett could be advantageous, as would a Duffy/Weston joint campus. Co-campus and joint administration could assist in ensuring the survival of both schools in a similar area.
The discussion turned to the cost savings in school amalgamations. As schools were being offered $200,000 this was considered a rough estimation of government savings per school per year.
The Minister opened his address by focussing on issues of urban infill, community services, school facilities and school enrolments.
The only planned urban infill in Weston Creek in the period 1999-2004 are some blocks to be released in Stirling. In respect of community services the Department is addressing the concerns of optimal use of government owned buildings. Funding has been made available for Stirling College (now Canberra College) and Stromlo High. There has been an upgrade of the sports facilities for Little Athletics at Chapman Oval.
Other community facilities work includes the enclosing of Stirling Oval and the Skate Park in Weston adjacent to the Scout Hall. There is also an upgrade of the adjoining Weston Primary School oval. The other large capital works in Weston Creek is the commencement of the planning for stage 2 of the Cooleman Court precinct.
In respect of school facilities there is sharing of facilities with the ORANA School, Life Education in Holder Primary, the Carers Association in Weston and CHADs in Holder Primary. There are however some empty spaces in school buildings, which are available for multiple purposes, but there is not as much use as expected. The last decade has not seen a huge increase in the number of users of school buildings. However there are some examples and in Spence Primary all space is taken (either new users or through the merger with Melba Primary [Mt Rodgers]). The Department is encouraging the use of excess space to cover the costs of running schools.
The number of children in a school campus determines the resources and teachers allocated. A primary school receives on average $6,000 per student (varies between $3,000 to $9,000). The size of the school is often reflected in the benefits of varied teachings on offer.
There is a continuing decline in the number of students in ACT schools, which is dropping at 1% pa. The demographic predictions of school age children in the ACT over the last 15 years have been very accurate. The number of births in Weston Creek in 1976 were 783 and in 1998 236, in addition in 1976 the national average was 2.9 births per thousand population. In 1998 the national average was 1.7 and in Canberra it was 1.5. The primary school enrolments in 1978 in Weston Creek topped 4,000 and this figure is now 1,379. The high school enrolments in 1985 (Holder High and Weston Creek High) were 1,700 compared with Stromlo High in 1998 which was 987, in 1999 is 906 and will drop to 858 by 2001. In primary schools the highest growth will be in Chapman with 420 in 2001 and the largest fall will be Rivett down to 90 in 2001.
When a school is closed the resulting savings remain with the Education Department. The cost of building a high school or College in the ACT is $20M. The education component of the capital works budget was $27-30M out of a total of $90M. The annual budget of the ACT is $1.9 billion (including $600M from the Commonwealth) and 31% of the budget is expended on education.
Education spending has increased 14% over 3 years which compares to health which has increased by 10%. 11% of the 14% was the salary for 3,000 teachers. Teachers are the major category of employees of the ACT Government. The government revenues are up by 9% and the savings are 2-3%.
Mr Stefaniak welcomed questions from the meeting.
Bob Sutherland thanked the Minister and the members of the public.
The correspondence received in the last month was made available to the meeting; all non-critical correspondence will be discarded.
Next Meeting will be 23 Feb 2000
Meeting closed at 10.15pm