MINISTER STOKES SHOULD IMMEDIATELY HALT ‘BONKERS’ SALE OF SCHOOL LAND IN WESTERN SYDNEY

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The NSW Opposition is demanding Education Minister Rob Stokes immediately halt the sale of valuable school land in Western Sydney and hand it back to an overcrowded school to enable it to expand. 

Instead of giving the almost 700 sq m block of land, which is part of Berala Public School, Minister Stokes has ordered the land be sold off to the highest bidder at auction next month.

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley said it wasn’t too late to take the property off the market, give it back to the school and green light the expansion it so desperately needs. 

Last year the Department passed up an opportunity to purchase the sole property situated in-between the vacant block of land already owned by the Department, which is now up for sale, and the school (see map).

Berala Public School is at 105 per cent capacity with 886 students and needs to expand in order to absorb the expecting increase in enrolments. There are also seven demountables in its grounds.

Today’s decision to put the land up for sale follows the establishment in April of a new delivery unit within Minister Stokes’ department to oversee the planning, supply and maintenance of NSW schools.

Yet one of the new infrastructure unit’s very first decisions is to sell off land rather than enable schools to use it to expand. The decision makes a mockery of the Liberal-National Government’s claims that it wants to address the overcrowding crisis that is gripping NSW schools.

Up to 300,000 new school places need to be found over the next 12 years yet the Liberals are only building two schools a year, compared to Labor’s record of five a year.

Statewide, 37 per cent (807) of the 2182 NSW public schools are now either at capacity or well above.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“This decision by the Education Minister to sell off public school land when this school has to turn kids away is completely and utterly bonkers.

“This is land that could have been used to allow the kids room to run around in at recess. Instead the Liberal government has effectively shut down the opportunity for this school to set itself up for the next 50 years.

“I am calling on Minister Stokes to immediately call off the sale and give it back to the school where it can be used for its future.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Education Minister Jihad Dib

“Minister Stokes’ new infrastructure unit has one job – that is to identify suitable land for schools – and yet one of its very first acts is to sell land off. 

“This is a wasted opportunity that tells you everything you needed to know about this Government’s priorities when it comes to schools.  

“This decision makes no sense at all. Minister Stokes needs to backtrack quickly and do the right thing here by the community and this school.”