State looks at plans to cope with expanding schools

AT LEAST six public schools on the lower north shore may be redeveloped and extra schools built under proposals the state government is investigating to cope with overcrowding from dramatic enrolment growth.

Twenty-seven P&C groups have joined forces to campaign for new facilities and will hold a public meeting on Monday night at Willoughby Girls High School.

The MP for Willoughby, Gladys Berejiklian, will join local mayors and representatives from teacher and school principal associations at the meeting. Willoughby and North Sydney councils have postponed their regular Monday night meetings to attend the community meeting.

The director of planning and delivery at the NSW Department of Education, Tony McCabe, said demountable classrooms would be removed from Killara High School, which is in high demand because it achieves top results in the HSC. He said the demountables would be replaced with permanent buildings.

Mr McCabe said about six schools, including primary and secondary, were in the ''master planning'' stage. He said options - ranging from their redevelopment to new schools being built - would be investigated in the lead-up to next year's budget.

Neutral Bay Public School will get six new classrooms and Cammeray Public will get four in the form of a prefabricated double-storey building next year.

This follows the success of the recent introduction of what are known as ''double demountables'' at Chatswood and Artarmon public schools.

The president of the Willoughby Girls High School P&C, Steph Croft, said public schools on the lower to mid north shore ''are now in crisis, experiencing the worst overcrowding and lack of capacity … in the state''.

All comprehensive high schools and most primary schools were now full and an alliance of 27 local public school P&C associations was calling for capital works funding to increase capacity, Ms Croft said.

''Many schools in the area are at maximum capacity and can fit no more demountable buildings,'' she said. ''Four schools have been forced to use their libraries and computer rooms as class rooms this year, precluding other students from accessing these facilities, and two schools have reached maximum capacity and cannot fit in all expected student numbers next year.

''At present, there is no solution for one of these schools, and the Department of Education and Communities is considering leasing commercial premises.''

The lower north shore has experienced a 23 per cent growth in student numbers in the past six years.

''The situation will continue to deteriorate as the state government's Sydney metropolitan plan will force another 44,000 new residential dwellings into the lower north shore area, and does not classify 'education capacity' as essential infrastructure,'' Ms Croft said.

The story State looks at plans to cope with expanding schools first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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