Change of tack in Crowdy campaign

Crowdy Head Public School is located on land that enjoys expansive views of Crowdy Back Beach and Crowdy Bay. Photo Google Earth.
Crowdy Head Public School is located on land that enjoys expansive views of Crowdy Back Beach and Crowdy Bay. Photo Google Earth.

THE gameplan has changed in the community fight to save Crowdy Head Public School.

On May 29 Harrington Community Action Group (HCAG) learned that its letter-writing campaign to members of parliament and the Department of Education and Communities had failed to convince decision-makers that the small school was an important asset.

Mark Youngblutt, the director of Public Schools NSW Hastings with the Department of Education and Communities, verbally delivered the news that "following community consultation he would be recommending the school close at the end of the 2014 school year" to a meeting at the school with HCAG, Crowdy Head Public School staff, representatives of the school's parents and citizens association and a representative of Harrington Lions Club.

He also advised that "the department determines the future of school sites surplus to its needs case by case, but in most cases sites are sold and the proceeds returned to public education."

Mr Youngblutt cited "the principal reason for the closure was the enrolment projections for 2015, which stood at one student from the school's catchment area, and two from outside that area."

The advice provided to HCAG at that meeting has served as a catalyst for the group to try to secure the support of member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams in the community campaign to keep the land a public asset.

HCAG recently wrote to Mrs Williams and urged her to investigate the issue, to meet with HCAG and "consider holding a community meeting to obtain the views of the community".

"It would be absolutely devastating if this facility was dismantled and demolished and the land placed on the market," Ms Hall said.

"This 10 acres is a prime piece of land and should remain for the use of the whole community ... would you like to see a developer purchase this prime piece of real estate and build large two storey houses over the whole 10 acres?

"The education department and State government has spent a great deal of money on Crowdy Head School in recent years, especially the construction of a new modern classroom that has only been in use since August 2012. If the education department and State government do not use this facility for special educational programs, or have it taken over by another State government department ... then it has been a great waste of taxpayer money!"

According to Ms Hall, the principal of Crowdy Head Public School "has very strongly recommended various projects that would utilise this facility to the benefit of the community as a whole" and that "this issue needs to be addressed prior to the school closure and before the school equipment is dismantled."

The office of the member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams confirmed receipt of the group's letter regarding Crowdy Head Public School.

"As requested by the Harrington Community Action Group I am investigating the future options for Crowdy Head Public School and have written to the Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli seeking the Department of Education's clarification," Mrs Williams said.

"Upon receiving a written response, I will then write to the HAG committee before discussing their correspondence further."