So it’s a merger, but not quite, with less money than promised.
Adrian Piccoli, NSW member for Murray and former NSW education minister, announced on Tuesday $25 million would be invested to merge Griffith High School and Wade High over two separate sites.
The compromise solution has provoked a mixed reaction, with more concern than celebration.
Brett Bertalli, Griffith organiser of the NSW Teachers Federation, said it “could be a nightmare for one principal to lead both schools”.
While he welcomed the $25 million investment, he said there are serious concerns with how the schools will be lead and the workload of the two deputy principals at each site.
“You’ve got two great high schools, and they’ve put money in them but taken away a principal. Our proposal was to have a principal at each site, that would’ve made more sense”.
Mr Bertalli said we haven’t heard from the education department over whether teachers and students would have to regularly move between the two sites, and said it would be concerning if they did.
“We’ll be working with the teachers over the coming week.”
Paul Pierotti, Griffith Business Chamber president, was less diplomatic.
“Adrian Piccoli has hoodwinked the community. The promise was $45 million for a merger, and he’s giving us $25 million.”
Mr Pierotti pointed out a government assessment of the facilities last year revealed $25 million was insufficient.
Anthony Perrau, NSW Department of Education executive director of assets had said, “$25 million is not going to cut it, I think it is at least $45...it may even go more than that, if we are going to do it we will have to do it properly and to do it properly there are going to be more cost”.
In response, Mr Piccoli said ““if we put house prices ahead of students we are putting the interests of adults in front of the interests of students.”
Mr Pierotti said Mr Piccoli is now backing away from properly funding a schools upgrade.
“Compromise solutions always lead to compromised outcomes,” he said.
David Robinson, Wade High Parents & Citizens (P&C) president was more optimistic.
Noting he hadn’t yet seen details, he said it sounds like “basically what the Wade High P&C promoted from the start”.
He was encouraged by the $25 million.
“We need to work closely with Griffith High to ensure a smooth transition, and for the funding is allocated the best way possible,” he said.