Government accused of hiding information to stop school

Geoff Provest says education outcomes are a top priority.
Geoff Provest says education outcomes are a top priority.

THE ISSUE of a new high school for Pottsville has been raised again with Shadow Special Minister of State Walt Secord accusing the O'Farrell Government of blocking the release of North Coast school enrolment figures to avoid building the school.

He said the state government was "breaking an election promise."

In response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, Mr Secord was asked to "reduce the scope" of his application with the Department of Education claiming it would take 92.5 hours at $30 an hour to process the application - which totals $2775.

Mr Secord lodged the FOI to gather information about the push for a high school at Pottsville.

However, Mr Secord said a leaked three page internal document to Tweed Shire Council dated December 24, 2012 shows the information was already contained in a single document.

"Tweed MP, Geoff Provest promised a new high school for the community and is now hiding behind the Education Department who are trying to block information from being released," Mr Secord said.

"The data does not cost $2775 to locate.

"This is simply another attempt by the O'Farrell Government to block the release of information and to avoid honouring its election promise."

Mr Secord said the data exists and is easily accessible as the department has already provided data in 2011 on the subject.

"The fast-growing Tweed Coast from Fingal to Pottsville is currently serviced by one high school at Kingscliff and students are traveling great distances just to get to classes," he said.

Mr Provest said he has had extensive talks with principals in the area and with the Pottsville Primary's P and C.

"Things have changed," he said.

"If we create another high school, we will take up to 100 students away from Kingscliff.

"Kingscliff High School would be unable to maintain the 47 HSC subjects it offers now.

"Up to 11 subjects could be lost, including pure maths and science subjects."

Mr Provest said the educational outcome for students was the top priority.

""At present student enrolments in Tweed are falling," he said.

"Eventually Pottsville will get a new school, but not straight away."

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