MEDIA RELEASE - LIBERALS CONTINUE TO IGNORE MAITLAND'S EDUCATION INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS
Government information shows up to a 94.3% increase in enrolments in Maitland electorate schools since 2013.
Local Member for Maitland, Jenny Aitchison and Shadow Minister for Education, Jihad Dib met with parent representatives from Rutherford Public School to discuss the School's ongoing infrastructure issues today.
Maitland has experienced significant growth recently and is struggling to cope with overcrowding and requests for future enrolments.
Currently at Rutherford Public School there are 35 classes, 20 home bases and 15 demountables. The hall, canteen and library are all designed for a school which originally held only 16 home bases. Toilets are located a significant distance from demountable classrooms, which makes it very difficult for younger students. The core facilities are hopelessly inadequate for the current school population. Parents reported in 2014 that teachers were even forced to use a computer lab as a permanent classroom due to a lack of even demountable classrooms. This meant other students were not able to access these important facilities at all.
Parent representatives were invited to participate in a Project Reference Group over the last year to examine more permanent expansion of the school's facilities. This included visits to other schools in Sydney to look at building options. However meetings were cancelled or ceased to be scheduled after December 2016 when former Education Minister Adrian Piccoli lost his portfolio as Deputy Leader of the Nationals.
The Parents and Citizens Association has been fundraising to try and improve facilities however none of their plans for improvements have been approved by the Department's architects.
In 2015 Labor Leader Luke Foley promised to build a new primary school in the Maitland electorate to cope with population demand in the area. The Liberal National Government promised money to expand Rutherford Technology High and Bolwarra Public School, but nothing for Rutherford Public School.
The Government has a responsibility to ensure that the area is well serviced by public education infrastructure to meet the expected future population growth in West Maitland.
Quotes attributable to Jihad Dib, Shadow Minister for Education
“We know that one third of classrooms across NSW are at or over capacity with playgrounds being eaten up by demountable classrooms. This is not good enough”
“The Minster for Education has today announced a plan to spend money on fixing crowded schools. He needs to commit to ensuring growing communities like West Maitland get a new school”
Quotes attributable to Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison
“West Maitland is growing very quickly and the exisiting public primary school at Rutherford is not coping with demand. That's why Labor committed to a new public school at Aberglasslyn at the last election. Why hasn't the government done the same?"
"The Berejiklian Government is showing contempt for our community by not recognising that Maitland is a major growth area of NSW."
"This Government is treating Maitland students like Sydney's poor cousins with current demountable classrooms situated a distance away from toilet facilities, a real safety issue particularly for younger students in wet weather."
“If the new Minister wants to show his commitment to the education portfolio, he should start right away by providing the permanent core facilities that Rutherford Public School desperately needs or taking up Labor's plan for a new school in West Maitland."
“Our children deserve the best possible education, and that means providing the best possible learning environment with adequate facilities for every student."
“Maitland students are being forced to learn in second rate environments because the Liberal-National Government has failed to address the growing increased enrolments."
Media Contact: Jenny Aitchison - 0418 456 405