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Parents voice school anger

19 Sep 2014

Parents voice school anger Image

The three main contenders for the state parliamentary seat of Albert Park witnessed parent frustration boil over at September 10’s education forum, over the area’s growing schools crisis.

Education lobby group Two Schools Now invited Labor MP Martin Foley, Liberal candidate Shannon Eeles and Greens candidate David Collis to provide the audience a chance to test their policies ahead of November’s state election.

Candidates were subjected to fierce scrutiny, as many of the 70 attendees vented their anger in the hope of seeking answers behind the disastrous state of public education in our area.

A local father stated that he was “angry as hell,” while a mother was even reduced to tears, branding the nature of the debate as “un-fathomable” and questioned why local children were still being forced to suffer.

“A decade ago we were fighting for childcare; we have known about this problem for so long,” she said. “We shouldn’t have to fight for it, it’s just ridiculous.”

Another parent made an impassioned plea for political action, acknowledging that, while local members “have their hearts in the right place,” it was time to put policy makers on notice.

Liberal candidate Shannon Eeles said she was using everything in her power to persuade the Education Minister Martin Dixon to commit further funding to the Coalition’s promised Ferrars St school.

“Like you, I don’t want to be in this position in another two, or four, or 10 years time,” she said.

Albert Park MP Martin Foley said Labor’s $11.5 million dollar plan for South Melbourne Park Primary remained the most viable option for a new school, with concerns surrounding contamination at Ferrars St.

However, parents expressed greater concerns by the fact that neither major party had secured a site for a secondary school or stated plans for an additional primary school.

While the Napthine government has committed $20 million for a new secondary school in Prahran, which will accept students from the City of Port Phillip, parents were unanimous in agreeing that it wouldn’t come close to solving the issue.

Mr Foley quizzed Ms Eeles as to why no site had been designated as part of the new Fishermans Bend strategy, despite five permits recently being issued for high-rise developments.

“Why is there a building application sitting on Mr Guy’s desk for a 35-storey development at what has been allocated as green space, but no school?” he asked.

Ms Eeles agreed Ferrars St was not enough but said her party would only promise schools they would actually build.

Two Schools Now president Marie Walters said that, of more than 400 local parents who responded to a recent survey, almost 90 per cent said the issue would be a “vote decider.”

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