Gracemere high school shafted by latest funding promise
THE long-requested Gracemere high school was overlooked yet again when the Palaszczuk government dished out $308 million in education funding promises last Friday.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said $308m in new funding would expand the Building Future Schools for Queensland fund to $808m which would help deliver seven new secondary schools, one special school and two primary schools and plan for another seven schools.
Acting Rockhampton Mayor Tony Williams and Independent candidate for Rockhampton Margaret Strelow have voiced their frustration at the Queensland Government's decision to target south east Queensland schools with their campaign promises by only providing a meagre offer to CQ for a $2.5m to refurbish two blocks at North Rockhampton High.
"While we of course welcome the recognition that regional Queensland education facilities need investment, here in Rockhampton we were disappointed not to see a commitment to a new high school in Gracemere,” Cr Williams said.
"Council is concerned about the safety of the 1000 plus high school students who do the journey from Gracemere each day, not to mention the impact on traffic in the region.
"There is a well-placed site owned by Education Queensland that is ready to go and having a school there would make a huge difference to the residents of Gracemere and the region more widely.”
Cr Williams said they had been pushing successive State Governments hard to recognise the importance of this new school since 2012 and with more than 2300 new dwellings in Gracemere expected by 2031, the demand for this school will only increase.
He vowed to continue lobbying for a new Gracemere high school and urged all political parties to commit to the project.
Independent candidate for Rockhampton Margaret Strelow said the government's decision to overlook the Gracemere high school was another case of "breadcrumbs again” for CQ.
She listed off the funding commitment which included $500m for two inner-city schools in Brisbane, six schools in the south-east corner at an average of $50m each and 17 refurbishments throughout Queensland of at least $10m each.
"We didn't get any of those and Gracemere's still waiting for its high school,” Ms Strelow said.
"We had the education minister fly to Rockhampton to announce a $2.5m refurbishment two blocks at North Rockhampton High.
"We're still getting breadcrumbs and it's just not good enough,” Ms Strelow said waving a box of Krummies bread crumbs.
Education Minister Kate Jones said the Queensland School Planning Reference Committee, an independent body, reviews the data and had been monitoring the Gracemere situation.
Ms Jones said Gracemere currently had 269 children making the commute to Rockhampton.
She said this number needed to be between 600 and 800.
If current growth rate levels continue, it's estimated Gracemere will reach this figure by 2025.
Ms Jones said many other areas were also growing, citing Calliope as an example.
Rockhampton Labor candidate Barry O'Rourke said the decision to build a Gracemere high school rested in the hands of the independent planning committee which was attached to Education Queensland.
"When they say we need a high school in Gracemere, the Labor government will act,” Mr O'Rourke said.
"We already have land identified there in Lucas St, we've got a nice big parcel of land and as soon as that demand is there, it's there to go.”