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

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