Revitalising schools in western NSW

Parents in Western New South Wales will have the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns about school infrastructure to Chief Executive of School Infrastructure NSW, Anthony Manning.

While much of New South Wales is facing a surge in school enrolments over the next decade, schools in Western New South Wales, including the Far West and Murray-Murrumbidgee, are the only regions in New South Wales where total government primary school enrolments are projected to decline in the coming decade.

In the P&C Federation electorate of the Far West, enrolments in over half of public schools in 2018 were less than those in 2017. Additionally the total average maintenance expenditure in New South Wales public schools is $106,636, while in the P&C Federation electorates of the Far West, New England and Riverina, the total average is $86,785.

“We believe in equity in education regardless of geographic location. While the challenge in metropolitan areas is to meet the surge in student numbers, schools in Western New South Wales must struggle to not be overlooked,” said P&C Federation Far West Councillor Natalie Walker.

The NSW Government, as part of its commitment to school infrastructure in the region, have announced they are investing $1.5 billion in schools in Western Sydney over four years, and investing a record $747 million over four years to reduce planned maintenance in schools, the biggest investment in maintenance in NSW history. Expenditure for planned maintenance for this fiscal year through May 31, is nearly $40 million for South Western Sydney and more than $17 million for Western Sydney.

“We have 67 school projects currently underway in Western Sydney communities to ensure we continue to provide and deliver high quality education facilities for students in these growing areas,” said Mr Manning.

One thing that would help ensure schools outside metropolitan areas have adequate infrastructure would be to give P&C Associations more direct autonomy over works in schools when they are providing the funding.

P&C Federation is working with the Department of Education to ensure that when P&C Associations provide funding for works in schools, the policies and procedures support P&C Associations. This includes allowing P&C Associations to use contractors registered and approved by the Asset Management Unit (AMU) without having to wait for approvals to expedite the process and allowing P&C Associations to source local contractors to support the community.

“Volunteer members within P&C Associations work very hard to raise funds for school facilities and getting snared in red tape wastes the efforts of those volunteers trying to benefit the school community and our children. The meeting with Mr Manning will be a great opportunity for P&C Associations in Western New South Wales to raise their concerns and press for solutions,” Ms Walker said.

The information session will be held at the Forbes High School on Wednesday, June 20 at 10am.

Ms Walker said the information session will be a great opportunity for Far West P&C Associations, along with their Principals to have an open discussion about school infrastructure with Anthony Manning, The CEO of School Infrastructure NSW.

Video conferencing will also be available as well for P&Cs and their Principals.

Registrations close Friday, June 15.

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