Monday, June 27, 2011

Glenora protest tomorrow



Monday 27th June 2011

The Derwent Valley community is up in arms about the possible closure of Grades 7–10 at Glenora District High School.

“Our community won’t take this lying down," Mayor Martyn Evans said.

“That’s why our community from Maydena to Granton is banding together to stop this.

“The community will be holding a protest at Glenora District High on Tuesday 28th June at 12.00, everyone is welcome to attend.  After the protest there will be a community forum where everyone can have a say.

“Children will have to travel long distances on icy and wet roads just to get to school.

“But this isn’t only about people with children at the school; it will affect our whole community, from the local businesses to the price of homes in the area – who wants to move to a place where their kids can’t go to school?” Mayor Martyn Evans said.

The State Government has flagged the changes at Glenora District High School as part of a cost saving measure in the budget.  One of the claims being made by the Government is that the area has a shrinking population and that closing the high school part of the school will have significant cost savings.

“The State Government has said that they want to save money, but they haven’t thought of the cost to our community, and they haven’t counted on the spirit we have here in the Derwent Valley.

“This is a short-term fix to a financial problem that the Government has known about for a long time. 

“Derwent Valley Council is a fast growing area, with several large new subdivisions approved in the last year or so, closing the High School at Glenora will cause huge problems in the future.

“Council has worked hard to turn the Valley around after losing services in the past and seeing some business scale back, things are looking up now and we are attracting new investments. 

“If the State Government gets its way, it may as well hang a banner across the Derwent Valley saying ‘Closed for Business’.

“I’m urging everyone who can, to come out and support our community and our future and attend the protest and forum on Tuesday 28th June, starting at 12.00,” Martyn Evans said.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 16 - McKim to Mayor

Mr Martyn Evans
Derwent Valley Council
PO Box 595

Dear Martyn,

As you will have heard, as part of the 2011-12 State Budget the State Government has announced measures to build a stronger and more sustainable education system in Tasmania. I am writing to provide you with some information on the process we will undertake as there are schools within your municipality that have been identified for possible closure.
Tasmania has a shrinking and ageing population and our school system needs to better match the number of schools we have with the number of students we have now and will have into the future. Demographic information shows that in 1995 there were 65 775 students enrolled in Tasmanian Government schools, by 2010, it had declined to 59 488, a reduction of over 6 000 students. This reflects broad Tasmanian population trends. In addition, Tasmania has a number of very small and under-occupied schools, and projected demographic data for 2011-2020 indicates expected population decline or negligible growth in the 0-19 age group for most areas of the state.
You may be aware that the Department of Education has been working with school communities for several years, and that a number of amalgamations have occurred. The issue has now become urgent because of Tasmania's budget situation, and the need to spend the funding provided as wisely as possible.
As you will know, the Department of Education has identified up to 20 schools for possible closure. Criteria were developed against which all schools were assessed. The criteria are:

• current and predicted enrolment trends;
• proximity of other schools;
• capacity of nearby schools to take students;
• travel time; and
• capacity to provide a comprehensive education in line with the requirements of the Australian Curriculum.
I stress that no decisions have been made as to whether a school that has been identified will close. I will consult with the association of an affected school before I make a final decision. Parents, staff, students and other community members will be able to have their say by contacting their school association. Each association has been provided with an educational, economic and social impact statement and will be providing written feedback to me through a formal consultation process. This process has already begun and closes at 5pm on Friday, 15 July.
During July I will be visiting each region of the state to meet with school association representatives of affected schools.
Additional information about Renewing our Education System is available at:
If you would like more information please have your office contact the General Manager of your local Learning Services.
Please feel free to contact me for further information.
Warm regards

The Hon Nick McKim MP
Minister for Education and Skills

June 17 - Mayor to McKim

17th June 2011

Nr Nick McKim, MP
Minister for Education and Skills
Level 9, Marine Board Building
1 Franklin Wharf

Dear Minister McKim,

I write on behalf of the Derwent Valley Council to express our dismay and anger at the decision to possibly close grades 7 - 10 of Glenora District High School (GDHS).

Council understands that these are difficult financial times, and that there have been tough decisions to be made, however we along with many members of our community feel that this decision shows scant regard for the importance of schools in regional communities.

I note from the list published in your media release on 16th June 2011 that of the twenty schools listed for possible closure, sixteen are in regional or rural towns. Yet another important service may be lost from many of these towns that are already struggling to keep the fabric of their communities intact.    These schools are not only places of learning; they are the hub of communities.  The GDHS has a proud history of being an integral part of a strong community, it is the a meeting place for many parents as they drop off and collect children, sometimes the only social contact that some residents of more remote areas have in a day.  It provides a community venue, has a Skill Share Centre, Child Care facilities and an Online Access Centre. 

I understand that the current proposal is to close grates 7-10, but as a community this presents many concerns to us.  If these grades cease to be taught at the school, where is the guarantee that at some time in the future the primary school section of the school will not cease to be utilised.   This is of particular concern as the Premier is reported in today’s paper as saying that ‘half empty’ schools can not continue.  If students are taken from the school, surely it will become less full.
I believe the GDHS has a number of enrolments from the now closed High School Section of the Ouse High School.  How is the education of these young people going to be impacted by yet another change of school due to an ever changing State Government Education policy.

Both Maydena Primary and Westerway Primary feed High School Students into Glenora District High, are these young people expected to travel another 20-30 minutes each day to reach New Norfolk High School?  (This additional time could bring the travelling time for students from Maydena well past the Premier’s nominated 45 minute travel time.) In winter on icy and foggy roads this poses a threat to the safety of those young people, and their bus driver.  It will also considerably lengthen an already long day, again especially in the winter when it will be dark when children leave home and return.

Has consideration been given to the effect that this will have on the community as a whole? 

There is much currently being said about supporting regional communities; this seems to be severely lacking in this proposal.  If years 7 – 10 close at Glenora District High what will happen to the Skills Centre there as many of the young people there will no longer be in the area.  This is just one example of the loss of a service to a regional area.  When areas such as this loose services, families are forced to reconsider their lives, and some are forced to move on, a drop in population leads to a drop in services, such as Police (there is currently a Police Officer stationed at Bushy Park) and in other communities where there are more services often health and transport services also move out of the area.  Soon the only people who are left in an area are those that can not afford to leave, leading to a drab and impoverished existence for some. 

These are just a few examples of the importance of a local school in a regional community, there are many, many more that I could bring to your attention to highlight not only the social but also the economic and emotional impacts of this poorly considered and ill planned decision.

I note from your media release of the 16th June 2011 that you will be conducting a “genuine consultation process” and will meet “fact-to-face with all potentially affected school associations”.  Although I applaud the concept of a consultation process, why is this being limited to only school associations and not the general communities that will be affected by these proposed closures.  As I have indicated earlier, it is not only those people who have children enrolled in a school that are affected by these closures; it also threatens the fabric of many small communities.

Council would therefore requests that  the opportunity to attend consultations to be extended to the broader community in the area, as well as Councillors in order for the full effects of these proposed changes to be felt by those who are making them.
Premier Giddings is reported to have said in the Budget Speech:
"Mr Speaker, a government can make no more important investment than in looking after children and supporting families".
It would seem from the actions regarding this school closure that that is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind if this measure were to go ahead.

Yours sincerely

Martyn Evans

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Council press statement



17 June 2011

Derwent Valley Mayor Martyn Evans today expressed his dismay at the State Government’s decision to consider closing schools.

“I note from the list of schools identified in Minister McKim’s media release that the vast majority of these are in regional and rural areas. 

“This is a real kick in the teeth for these areas, and a very short sighted move on the part of the State Government.

“I understand that these are tough economic times, but closing schools is a false economy.  When the school is closed or downgraded, the whole community suffers, and so does the regional economy of the area”, Mayor Evans said.

Glenora District High School in the Derwent Valley has recently received $975, 000 in upgrades from the Autralian Government’s Building the Education Revolution, and is the only High School between the West Coast and New Norfolk since the closure of the High School at Ouse.  The school serves students from  Westerway and Maydena Primary Schools, and has a Skills Centre, Child Care facilities and an Online Access Centre attached. Many of the facilities in the school are used by the community such as the newly refurbished Multi Purpose Centre.

“Glenora, like many other regional schools, is the hub of the community, it’s a place that parents meet and talk about what’s happening, and it helps to build the fabric of the community.

“There is much currently being said about supporting regional communities; this seems to be severely lacking in this proposal. 

“If years 7 – 10 close at Glenora District High what will happen to the Skills Centre there as many of the young people there will no longer be in the area.  

“When areas such as this lose services, families are forced to reconsider their lives, and some are forced to move on, a drop in population leads to a drop in services, such as Police and in other communities where there are more services often health and transport services also move out of the area. 

“Some parents may decide that if the High School closes it is better to send their child to Primary School in New Norfolk as well, to avoid disruption.  This leaves us with a community without a school, but with another large empty building courtesy of the State Government, in our Municipality,”.

“In the long term, this may mean that fewer people choose to move to rural and regional areas, because they can not be sure that services will remain.  Communities collapse, small businesses close and land prices go down, leaving people stuck with no option but to sell. 

“We have seen this happen already in too many rural and regional communities. 

“This is a poorly thought out, inept and blunt tool to solve an issue that should be looked at in terms of the survival of communities, not in dollar terms,” Martyn Evans said.

At a Derwent Valley Council Meeting on the 16th June, many Councillors expressed their dismay at the possible closure of the school, and have requested that the Mayor make contact with State Government Ministers to lobby on behalf of the community.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Saving Glenora High

AT tonight's Derwent Valley Council meeting I put the following questions without notice to the mayor:
  • Will you make an immediate representation to Premier Lara Giddings to protest the proposed closure of the high school section of Glenora District High School as foreshadowed in today's State Budget?
  • Will you advise Education Minister Nick McKim of the importance of Glenora District High School being maintained in its current form?
The mayor said he would do so.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June advertisement

BELOW is my latest councillor update, published in last week's issue of the Derwent Valley Gazette.