Regional areas plan to have new schools in next decade
REGIONAL growth areas such as Gladstone, Mackay and Caloundra will most likely be picked in the next round of schools the Queensland Government plans to build through public private partnerships.
Ten new schools were yesterday announced for south-east Queensland but Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said regional areas would be next as they made plans for close to 100 new schools in the next decade.
Mr Langbroek said he could not guarantee new regional schools would be announced before the end of the year because the School Planning Commission was still analysing data to project where they would be needed most.
He said the commission was using statistics, information from Queensland Treasury and working with officials from local government, transport, energy, educational training and employment departments to ensure the planning was not ad hoc.
Mr Langbroek said this was the first time in Queensland's history that the government had looked at data instead of responding to developer requests to place schools on newly developed land.
"The demand map the school planning commission is currently working on ties in with the data we have that shows these are the areas where we need these new schools," he said.
Four bidders have been short-listed for tenders to build new schools at Ripley Valley, Springfield, Griffin, Bellbird Park, Redbank Plains, Caboolture, Burpengary, Pallara and Pimpama.
This includes two secondary and eight primary schools which will employ up to 540 teachers, 130 other staff and up to 10,800 students from 2015.
Mr Langbroek said he was looking for innovation from the tenderers on new ways to build schools for the 21st century.
He said one suggestion he would look at was the use of schools in emergency situations, pointing to the flood crisis in Bundaberg earlier this year as an example.
"Especially in regional and remote areas, schools are the hub of the community and in times of crisis people go there," he said.
"Any of those sorts of ideas that will encourage community involvement are things that we'll be welcoming."
Mr Langbroek said these public private partnerships followed from seven schools the former Labor government delivered under the same model.
He said the current model meant schools would cost $35-45 million to build, instead of half a billion.
But Mr Langbroek said the partnerships meant the cost was "smoothed out" over 30 years because the winning tender would also be responsible for maintenance for that period to recoup the building costs.
This comes after the Education Department suggested closing 55 schools which it deemed unviable.
Mr Langbroek said his office - after analysing enrolment trends, people from local catchment areas and alternatives if schools closed - had reduced this number to nine
He said any savings made from closing schools would be funnelled back into the education system.