New South Wales
I object to SSDA 14394209, re the current proposal in regards to a High School in Bungendore. First, let me be clear in stating my support for a High School in Bungendore, just not one in the proposed location. I have concerns regarding town amenity, heritage, whether the site is fit for purpose and the poor quality of education that would be provided at this site. I also believe the Government will be find it challenging to develop the site (for the reasons below) and that the project would be less hindered by another site (E.g. the Ashby property on Tarago Road).
Town amenity: the proposed site sits upon Bungendore Park. Bungendore Park was first gazetted in the late 19th century (approximately 1880) and has been the jewel of Bungendore ever since. Along with the two remaining churches, the police station and the post office, it is one of the few remaining links to that era for Bungendore. Further, It has been home to the Bungendore Tigers (our Rugby League team) since 1908.
Today it hosts the town swimming pool (funded by the local community in the early 1990s), the town's tennis courts, cricket nets, adult exercise equipment, a children's playground, public toilets and a footpath that circumnavigates it. It is utilised by local families and exercise service providers every day. It is a well placed and highly utilised community asset with both tangible and intrinsic value.
Heritage: The Bungendore Park site is adorned by the war memorial (which will be impinged by the proposed school), poets corner (a site dedicated to musical art and poetry), stone pines from Lone Pine at Gallipoli (sent from Suvla Bay by a fallen digger to his mother), heritage horse railing (out the front of council offices), the grave of an Indigenous man, and is adjacent to the post office, train station and pre-school (formerly a Catholic school) and the old convent. It neighbours homes on Butmaroo St that have been heritage listed for their links to centuries gone. All of these items are in their proper location now and are protected from over development, and change, by the Crown Lands Act among other instruments of law including, but not limited to, heritage law, various environment laws, the ANZAC Memorial Act.
Fit for purpose: I find it difficult to understand why the Department of Education would want to place a greenfield high school on a site that is smaller (2.9Ha) than the published preferred area (4Ha) for a high school in regional NSW. What will the school miss out on in order to shoe horn it into this site? It appears, from the current design, that the high school will have no oval (thus nowhere for kids to run around) and limited other outdoor space. What's more there is no room for the school to grow with the town, which is slated to double in population, within the decade. The three other high schools in the local government area, Queanbeyan, Karabar and Braidwood, all have abundant green spaces and school ovals.
If the Department decides to utilise the oval, it will fast become over used and be rendered useless to the 400 odd users of the facility for winter sports (junior football, senior rugby, junior and senior rugby league). It is not enough to say that these sports will move to the new sports facility. There are only two fields there, so at least one code will need (indeed should) stay at Bungendore's home ground of more than 100 years.
Quality of education: In alignment with this, I have to question the quality of education that the school would be able to provide. I have to ask; how can such a small, grassless school provide the quality of education that the children of Bungendore deserve? In addition to the lack of oval, will the school also lack a gymnasium (we're led to believe this will be shared with the primary school (along with the school library), science labs or an arts complex. If even one of these is missing, the school will offer the poorest quality education in the Queanbeyan Palerang Regional Council area.
I also suggest any sharing of resources between the high school and the primary school will lead to a poorer quality of educational service for the primary school too (a significant number of local teachers have privately raised this with me). The primary school already performs below average in Naplan, and other areas. It would be catastrophic for the students of Bungendore to be hindered further than they are now.
I urge the Department of Education and the NSW Government to go back to their drawing board and find a site that is more appropriate for our area and will offer the quality of education our children deserve.