Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison is calling on the State Government to commit to long overdue school upgrades in her electorate.
It’s part of a new campaign, launched by NSW Labor called Building Schools Creates Jobs, to kick-start the construction of school projects.
In Maitland, the government promised an upgrade to Ashtonfield Public School back in the 2018-19 budget, but funds have still not been made available.
Plans for the project were made public last week, but there’s no timeline for completion.
“Our schools carry the burden of 63 demountable buildings, which is a clear indication that investment in our children’s education has failed to keep pace with the growth of our city,” Ms Aitchison said.
Information recently obtained by NSW Labor during budget estimates questioning revealed that 11 of Maitland’s 22 public school were at more than 100% capacity, based on the number of permanent buildings at their sites.
“I have made numerous representations to the Minister for Education, calling for a new school in the Maitland electorate, and I have long advocated for a significant upgrade to Gillieston Primary School,” Ms Aitchison said.
“The government’s response is that it has no plans for a new school, and that our local public schools are below capacity. Try telling that to the parents, carers, teachers and students who live in high-growth areas, and to the residents who live near the schools.”
Ms Aitchison said she feared that the Berejiklian Government was committed to “privatisation by stealth.”
“In Maitland, we have seen Catholic and Independent schools step up to address the shortfalls in some of our highest growth areas,” Ms Aitchison said.
“By law, our children must attend school. If the government does not build accessible, well-resourced public schools where they are needed, it gives space for the private sector to thrive.”
NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said it was time for the Maitland community to see promised works delivered.
“Building or upgrading schools creates jobs,” Ms McKay said.
“It means trades jobs in the short term, and new teaching opportunities and better prospects for our children in the long term.”
Ms Aitchison also acknowledged the important economic role a school building blitz would play.
“We are in a recession,” Ms Aitchison said.
“Now is the time to bring forward desperately-needed school construction.
“By bringing forward these projects, we will not only address serious issues of overcrowding in the classroom but also provide hundreds of jobs.”
A spokesperson for NSW Education Minister, Sarah Mitchell, failed to return the Newcastle Weekly’s calls today.