Page 3128 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 24 August 2005

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Max Green to about 200 back in about 1995. That was difficult but there was a consultation process. The school closed. There were options too. One I would like to have seen taken up was the twinning of the school with Melba high but the school community ultimately rejected that. They did not like closing but they were at least assisted. There was a transition period when most of the students went to Ginninderra district high. If you perhaps want to look at how to consult, just go back through your departmental records. This is not rocket science. We have a static, and indeed possibly a slightly declining, school population because of demographics in the territory. These issues are going to come up. They need to be dealt with sensitively and sensibly and they need to involve people.

Back in October 1999 guidelines for schools with declining enrolments were put out. These were successfully adopted with a minimum of angst, although not without angst because you are always going to get angst. There are always people who do not want to see their school close, for obvious reasons. If the process is to happen it has to be managed properly. The community has to be involved, and it was. Apart from offering about 100 grand a year if schools went from two sites to one there were also guidelines put in place that I think are quite relevant. I would commend this to the minister. It is a reasonable consultation model which I think would stand the test of time, rather than what you have done.

Firstly, the school board would analyse enrolment information and trends. That would include a number of things such as the number of kids in the priority enrolment area, the rate of decline to the school, other enrolments outside the area and whether the trends are likely to continue. It would then go to step two, and this is just within the school community. The board would then analyse the benefits and disadvantages of the future size of the school, looking at things like the programs on offer, the resources, the social and learning environment, extracurricular activities, parent participation and staff workloads. The board would then either come to a decision to proceed to do something in consolation with a school community or say, “No, we are not going to proceed further. These issues can be addressed in amendments to the school development plan; we will carry on and try to improve the situation without taking further steps.”

If the board decided to proceed it would then consult with the school community and a planning process would be undertaken. They would then inform the director and the schools would convene meetings of the community, provide information and get feedback. That would lead to a further decision—either to proceed on the development of options or that there is no need to proceed. Issues can then be addressed through school development planning with feedback from the community.

After that there would be the fourth step of the analysis of strategic options, which would then lead to a plan for implementation. The community of the school would consider the options and either authorise the board to proceed with those options or at that late stage say, “No, those options are not acceptable” and inform the school community and the cluster of schools of its decision. I seek leave to table that. I think it might help the minister if she has forgotten about it.

Leave granted.

MR STEFANIAK: I table the following document:

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