Ridiculous to consider Wentworth Park for school

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Published August 30, 2015 - Kirsty Needham, State Politics Editor, Sun HeraldJP_in_Sun_Herald_30Aug15_on_Ultimo_school.png

Greens MP for Balmain, Jamie Parker, has questioned the impact on students of putting demountables in public spaces.

"It is ridiculous we are even considering a site like Wentworth Park. The government needs to go back to negotiations with the City of Sydney," he said.

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A Sydney primary school could be moved into the grounds of a greyhound racetrack to cope with the inner-city classroom squeeze.

Old tote buildings trackside at Wentworth Park, in Glebe, could be demolished in favour of demountable classrooms, under the Education Department proposal. 

The adjoining public park, where a man's body was discovered under a tree with his throat cut this month, would also house temporary classrooms, under the proposal being considered. A fence would separate students from the public space.

Ultimo Public School is slated to be demolished next year to make way for a high-rise school. Hundreds of students will need to be relocated into temporary classrooms for up to three years during the construction of the new school.

Wentworth Park, on Wattle Street, in Sydney's inner west, sits opposite the school but is heavily used by local residents and other schools as a recreation area.

Wentworth Park Sporting Complex Trust chief executive Peter Mann said a 100-metre site inside the northern boundary of the racetrack was being discussed as a site for the demountable classrooms.

"It is a relatively redundant area of the sporting complex that would be used for the temporary housing of the school. They would have a location without impinging on public space," he said.

The Education Department is proposing to pay for the demolition of the disused racetrack buildings, he said. Wentworth Park holds race meetings every Friday and Saturday night.

But Greens MP for Balmain, Jamie Parker, has questioned the impact on students of putting demountables in public spaces.

"It is ridiculous we are even considering a site like Wentworth Park. The government needs to go back to negotiations with the City of Sydney," he said.

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich said moving the students to Wentworth Park would cause them unnecessary disruption.

"I am concerned about the impact of relocating students, having a whole school in demountables, and what the learning impacts are," he said.

"I'd rather see a new, larger and purpose-built school, with the existing school used in the interim."

In June, the Baird government pulled out of a deal with the City of Sydney to buy a $74 million site on Wattle Street to build a promised new school and childcare centre, after a dispute over remediation costs.

The backflip outraged parents and residents. Parents have said they want the original plan for a new school on Wattle Street reinstated.

An Education Department spokesman said: "No decision has been made regarding the temporary relocation of Ultimo Public School students during the construction of the new Ultimo Public School."

Pyrmont and Ultimo have the highest density of any area in Australia, meaning school places and green open space are in high demand.

The school is next to the Bays Precinct and Sydney Fish Markets, which the government has slated for redevelopment into high-rise apartments.

Mr Mann said the advantage of moving the temporary school across the road to Wentworth Park was that children were already familiar with the area.


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  • commented 2016-03-04 16:28:49 +1100
    Fully agree with Kiri Valsamis. We are paying taxes and rates in the trust that councils and governments will be making decisions which are GOOD for the community. However, they are failing out trust.
  • commented 2015-10-21 11:46:37 +1100
    As the end of the year is approaching – what is the latest news about Pyrmont Public School. Why has the government ignored projected school placement needs? How is the current site going to meet the needs of an ever-growing school population? This is and will continue to be a saturated environment – even with a promised redevelopment – that by their own calculations, will be sufficient for only 300 more students? The government has earmarked the development of the council site to more housing – but where are these new families expected to send their children to be educated? Shoe-horning even 300 new students will inevitably lead to changes to what is currently accepted as satisfactory teaching and learning spaces and/or the active areas (playgrounds). This will translate into composite classrooms or multiple class student project work – another way of squeezing more students into one space under the guise of “progressive teaching”. Why also deprive the community of an opportunity to develop a state of the art setting for a broad range of community uses: primary school, before and after care, community college, school/community garden and general use hall? The decision to change the already investigated and agreed to council land smacks of incompetency at a number of stages of planning. The cost of “cleaning” the land does not compare with the future-proofing and value-adding that the council site would provide. The issue of re-locating the students to Wentworth Park, with a myriad of costs and welfare/safety issues, would disappear if the school held its current location and then transitioned across to the new school – no disruption and no additional financial expense. Wouldn’t this alone cover the costs involved in improving the site? I’m shocked at the failure to forward plan – even with the researched evidence is provided; the procrastination to make a decision ever while causing stress to the school community; and the backflipping that has gone on – each time at a cost in time and promotion. Why is left to the community to point out the deficiencies of such poor choices? These individuals in government, are charged with the responsibility and paid to make sound decisions for the larger community.

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