Southbank ‘zoned out’ of primary school

Southbank children are in danger of being without a local primary school if a new neighbourhood boundary proposed by Port Melbourne Primary School is accepted.

Port Melbourne is one of two “unzoned” government schools that children in the Southbank region can currently attend.

At a Southbank Residents Group (SRG) meeting in August, Albert Park MP Martin Foley said a large number of primary school kids would be affected.

Mr Foley presented residents with a map showing the proposed zone. It included northern zone line along the Yarra River, which will come into affect next year.  But more concerning for Southbank is its proposed zone line along City Rd and then up Kings Way to the Yarra River, which will be assessed and possibly brought in for the 2013 school year.

Port Melbourne Primary had to make these requests to the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development because of increasing student numbers.

The lack of a school in Southbank and South Melbourne has meant the numbers at Port Melbourne have skyrocketed, and it is getting close to capacity.

Port Melbourne Principal Peter Martin stressed the school wanted the department to look at restructuring other schools zones, so no children were without a local primary school.

“We’d like to see a rationalisation of the other schools zones,” Mr Martin said.

If the new zone was implemented without any changes to others it would leave most of Southbank and much of South Melbourne without access to a local primary school.

It will also mean St Kilda Primary was the nearest government school to the vast majority of Southbank families who live outside of the proposed new boundary.

But St Kilda could hardly be considered local, as parents would have to pass six other primary schools to get there.

Mr Foley stressed his support for a new primary school, adding: “If we want a community, rather than just a collection of tall buildings, we need a primary school.”

Despite the growth within Southbank in the last two decades, three local primary schools have been closed and sold off, and a fourth was converted into a specialist school.

The Department of Education confirmed that a proposal for a neighbourhood boundary had been put forward by the Port Melbourne Primary School Council and it was analysing the options.

“The department is now beginning consultation with the school and other neighbouring schools regarding the proposal,” a department spokesperson said.

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