The NSW Government has confirmed that there are currently have no plans to build new schools in the Shellharbour electorate, to cater to residents of the West Dapto area.
The Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson MP, received a response from Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Gareth Ward MP, concerning a letter she wrote to the Hon Rob Stokes MP, Minister for Education, in July 2017.
In her original letter, Anna Watson MP, asked whether any of the ’90 new school and major upgrade projects’ announced in the NSW 2017-18 Budget Paper would be located within the electorate of Shellharbour, to cater to the growing need for educational infrastructure for West Dapto.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister, the Member for Kiama last week re-announced the confirmed funding for an upgrade to Dapto Public School.
However, the Government has yet to disclose the total funding allocated to the upgrade, the nature of the upgrade, a start or completion date for the project and how many additional students Dapto Public School will accommodate following the completion of the upgrade.
The letter has also confirmed: “The Department (of Planning and Environment) will continue to monitor growth in West Dapto” but this upgrade is currently the only planned method to “address the area’s projected enrolment growth in the short to medium term.”
West Dapto has been dubbed one of New South Wales’ key growth suburbs and once completed it is expected to comprise of over 19,500 new dwellings and house more than 55,000 people.
Currently, Dapto Public School is the sole school catering to the area and is bursting at the seams with 12 demountable classrooms used on-site. This level of enrolment should indicate the need for a new school for the area, as an upgrade to the school on a constrained site may further compromise on the school’s level of green space.
In 2015, the Labor Party made an election promise to invest $44 million in the area, and construct an ‘education precinct’ for West Dapto to ensure the future needs of the region were provided for. In stark contrast, Mr Ward’s comments appear to have made little consideration for the long-term needs of the Shellharbour electorate and the demands of the high-school aged population of West Dapto.
Quotes Attributable to Anna Watson MP:
“The NSW Government has conceded to the enormous demand for educational infrastructure in West Dapto, by funding an upgrade to Dapto Public School but this is just a band-aid for a bullet wound”.
“The Minister for Education, by choosing not to respond himself has exposed his neglect for students in the Illawarra”.
“The indefinite nature of the announced upgrade, and the confirmation that a new school for West Dapto is not on the horizon should ring alarm bells for local residents.”
28 September 2017