New Taree High School entrance ignites concerns about community consultation

Modern Makeover: The controversial new modern entrance to Taree High School in Albert Street is a bold design statement for the school that is more than 100 years old.
Modern Makeover: The controversial new modern entrance to Taree High School in Albert Street is a bold design statement for the school that is more than 100 years old.

It’s big. It’s yellow and it’s sparked spirited community comment about cost and consultation.

The new Taree High School entrance is “ugly”, “looks like the entrance to the Commonwealth Bank”, “a waste of taxpayer’s money”, “too bright and boxy”, “modern and fresh”, “cheerful and welcoming” and “fabulous and functional” – that is a snapshot of public opinion when you look to community comment on the Manning River Times’ Facebook page.

A Manning River Times poll saw 448 people vote ‘no’ in response to the question, ‘Do you like the new entrance to Taree High School?’, with only 213 giving it the thumbs up and 16 people choosing to vote ‘other’. 

Colourful comments dominate the community conversation on social media and canvas concerns about the cost, consultation and design process.

What a waste of taxpayer’s money. Imagine if a private company did this to a 100-year-old post office. They’d end up in jail. This looks disgusting.

Stuart Bonds

“The entrance did need some improvement but it’s such a shame that the funding was tied and couldn’t be spent in the school itself. I’m sure the students and staff would have appreciated money being spent on essentials within the school - not a million dollar facade,” said Kylie Cleaver.

MidCoast councillor Brad Christensen.

MidCoast councillor Brad Christensen.

MidCoast councillor, Brad Christensen voiced his support saying,”A local school gets a freshen up and people complain? Before you could hardly tell where the office was, now it's a new look with a colour that coincides with the school and stands out. Good for you Taree High I say!”

Joy Davidson acted to highlight additional needs in the 900 students school community, “couldn't they prioritise some rain shelters for children waiting for buses in the pouring rain year after year!”

The NSW Department of Education chose to not disclose the cost of the project in response to questions from the Manning River Times, instead choosing to point to the fact that it was part of a four-year program to improve public schools - and acted to defend the design and colour of the new Taree High School entrance. The project also includes a refurbished administration area, a new lift, awning, paving and signage.

A spokesman advised “the design of the project, including the colour of the entrance, was developed in consultation with a Project Reference Group, a heritage consultant and the school community.”

The colour selected for the entrance complements the school’s existing branding, utilising a colour that appears within the school’s logo, on student uniforms and school stationery.

NSW Department of Education

“Overall, the aim of the project is to improve the physical environment and aesthetics of the school for students, staff, visitors and the wider local community. 

“The school’s facade and the entrances will be made more visible and attractive as a result of the changes being made, providing improved way finding and access into the school’s entrance.”

Taree High School. (Year unknown).

Taree High School. (Year unknown).

COMMUNITY COMMENTS

Kylie Hodges: “... I think it looks modern and fresh. Town must be full of architects from all the negative comments.”

Rebecca Moore: “... looks like they have stuck a cut-out shipping container on the front of it and that will need to be repaired or replaced in 10 years time if they are lucky for it to last that long.”

Dave Williams: “So ugly and destroys the character of the heritage building. Bet an art or future engineering student could have done a better job designing something more tasteful.”

Heidi Lambert: “When are the homeless moving in?”

Scott Gale: “It is now possible to see from space - job well done if that was the brief ... otherwise it’s an absolute joke.”

Mike Cherry: “Looks like the entrance to the Commonweath Bank.”

Michael Parsons: “Looks fabulous and functional! What is not to like?”

Marilyn Connors: “… I find it cheerful and welcoming. The building itself always reminds me of the old army barracks/prisons. Dark and depressing. However, each to their own. We are all different (thank goodness).”

Amanda Ford: “It looks great and modern, fits well with the school colours and is now a hell of a lot safer than the original entrance! It's a plus for me!”

Ciara Knox: “An absolute joke! What an eyesore!”

Pauline Ballard: “Looks fantastic. My first impression was a large Tonka toy.”

Tracey Laughlin-O’Rourke: “Looks like a government office not a school. Thank God they put a sign out the front.”

Mikayla Rose: “Does it really matter what it looks like? Yellow and black are the school colours! There is a much needed lift there now, an area for people to sit whilst they wait for buses, shade, weather protection for kids waiting for the buses. This upgrade can be benefited from in so many ways, was a definitely much needed upgrade for the students! And people can actually tell where the office and front entrance is now.”

Linda Hoadley: “Interesting. I like that Taree has something different and contemporary, makes a nice change.”

Jason Martin: “I like the seal job on the road out the front of it better.”

Annette O'Rourke: “Fresh, new, modern, accessible to all entrance.”

Katy Jean: “I really hope they continue to re-do other parts of the school. More accessibility throughout the school, re-do the ceilings inside classrooms, maybe even just getting hand dryers in the toilets.”

Sheryl Prenclaves: “I think it needed a change to the entrance but they went a bit far. I would have liked the money spent on airconditioners for heating and cooling instead.”

Shauno Gramps Elbourne: “All the people saying it’s ugly ... we are one of the only towns with Centrelink in the main street ... what's uglier? I don't mind the upgrade but I would like airconditioners for our kids next.”

Kylie Dreyer: “I think the old historical look of the school looks much better. Yes it’s old, but that’s the history of the building. How about a face lift that restores its original beauty and enhances its historical features?”