With strong population growth in the area, a committed group of Bungendore parents have been pushing for a high school to be built in their town.
On Friday (26 October) the NSW Opposition announced that Labor will build a new high school in Bungendore within their first term of office, if elected in 2019.
Shadow Education Minister Jihad Dib made the commitment while visiting Bungendore, joined by Country Labor’s Candidate for Monaro Bryce Wilson, Federal Member for Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly and local parents.
Bungendore and its surrounding areas have seen more than a 20 per cent growth in the primary school aged population from 2011-2016. There are almost 1,000 students in the local primary schools in Bungendore, Sutton, Tarago, Captains Flat and Gundaroo who will need to transition into high school within the next few years.
Currently, many of these school students have to travel long distances to attend high school and these schools and many Canberra schools have become unavailable, as the ACT Government has restricted the Schools that NSW residents can attend.
The announcement comes as Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro John Barilaro launched an online campaign for the new school. In the petition Mr Barilaro says “I believe now is the time to push for a high school to be built in Bungendore. I need your help to make this happen. Together we were able to convince the Minister for Health to commit to building an ambulance station in Bungendore and I know we can work together again to see a high school built in Bungendore.
Shadow Minister for Education Jihad Dib said, “We can see from the evidence that the existing high school network here will struggle to accommodate for all the incoming students – a new high school should be an urgent priority for the Liberals and Nationals – not just online lip service from the Deputy Premier.”
“The Bungendore Action Group and Labor’s Candidate for Monaro Bryce Wilson have presented a compelling case. I was impressed by their detailed knowledge and commitment when I met with the group and Bryce Wilson in September” he said.
Country Labor’s Candidate for Monaro Bryce Wilson said, “As a former science teacher, a proud member of my local P&C, and person that has worked on the ‘Gonski’ reforms, I am passionate about education and I am very proud to be supporting this announcement today.”
“I want to also thank Mike Kelly for his advocacy for the high school. For several years now, Mike has been highlighting the importance of having a high school here in Bungendore” said Mr Wilson.
Mr Kelly said, “I thank Luke Foley and his team for prioritising the education of our local kids over new football stadiums in Sydney. I’m grateful to the community for their valuable feedback and congratulate them on their successful campaign for this new school.”
It was acknowledged that Braidwood Central School would lose some students, however, Member of the Bungendore High School Action Group Fiona Doyle said, “I would hope that the two schools could collaborate and offer different subjects so there would be more choice.”
Ms Doyle said, “when many Bungendore parents work in Canberra, it just doesn’t work to send your kids in the other direction (to Braidwood).”
After Labor’s announcement, Mr Barilaro said, “This is again a recycled election commitment from 2015 from the Labor party. This is a hollow announcement. Like in 2015, they are unable to identify a block of land to build a school. As we all know in Bungendore, access to land is one of the greatest obstacles to the many projects. ”
“My commitment has always been that unless I can point to a block of land, and put a stake in the ground, then I can’t make an announcement” he added.
Mr Barilaro said, “Everything I’ve delivered over the last few years has been because I’ve done my homework beforehand. I have worked hard in recent months, to get the data to prosecute a case and I am working for a solution in relation to land.”
There are over 4000 students from NSW travelling to school in Canberra.