My personal notes from the P&C meeting of the Whites Hill State College, Guest Speaker Mr Steve Minnikin MP
Mr Minnikin began by saying he apologised for the lack of notification regarding the plans to sell the school oval. He said he and Ian Kaye were both upset by the short notice they were given. He apologised that he and Ian Kaye had not been able to meet at the prior nominated times due to prior commitments, however the P&C felt that with such an important piece of information it was extremely important to meet as soon as possible.. He also stated that the dotted line that differentiates the Chatsworth and Greenslopes electorates were not relevant and that he would be involved as the member for the area the school falls in.
I shall dot point the main issues as per my recollection.
Mr Minnikin stated that
· They were left with a $300 Million back log of maintenance and that our school has currently approx. $750 000 worth of maintenance required with approx. $440 000 having been spent so far.
· He believes the sale must happen to offset the cost of this maintenance because we are accruing $11000 per minute in interest, a sound byte that continues to be repeated.
· Schools are allocated 12 hectares per 1100 students and we have just under 16.2 hectares including the oval over the road from the grounds with the buildings. This is apparently how the space required for a school is calculated, using the comparison of battery hens per hectare, perhaps not the best of analogies when discussing our children. No consideration is given to the use of the oval by the Gateway District Schools for high school sport or the Lytton District Schools for primary sport.
· He was aware that there was some sort of environmental/ native animal concern (The Squirrel Glider Corridor) but didn't know any details about it.
· Mr Minnikin will lobby with Ian Kaye to secure a small percentage of the profit from the sale of the land for the school.
*A parent raised the concern in the later general business that when the schools merged (Camp Hill State High School and Whites Hill State Primary School) to form Whites Hill State College, there were promises and commitments about money that would be put into the school, then the principal was transferred and no money was received by the school.
Mr Minnikin was asked about the budget and how millions of dollars is allocated to Main Roads and 1% of that budget could rectify the maintenance back log, he agreed that it appears easy like that but that there are always different reasons for money being allocated the way it is e.g. we don’t have a sufficient highway from Brisbane to cairns. There was a lot of talk about budgets and how everyone wants the dollars.
He was asked when the full list of the 55 schools suggested in the papers would be released. Mr Minnikin asked in return, “who said there was 55 schools” and “don’t believe everything you read in the press.” He assured the P&C that no other local primary schools were earmarked for closure (as this was the concern of the parent asking the question, if one or more of the other local schools were closed which has been suggested in the past it would impact on numbers at our school).
I asked with consideration of the overland flow path of flood waters, what could the land be sold for, for what use? He said he could not answer that and perhaps Councillor Schrinner could help us with that question.
I asked if Mr Minnikin if he would join Councillor Schrinner is supporting a ‘change of heart’ on the matter as expressed as Mr Schrinners desired outcome in a letter to me. He said he would not.
Mr Minnikin had talked about economics and how he learnt around the kitchen table about it, our community member said that what she had learnt in the same way was that you don’t sell off an asset today when you could reap more from it in the future.
A member of the community asked the question about the change in demographics in the area and the cyclical nature of young families. She also brought attention to the higher density housing in the immediate area and how that would impact future enrolments.
Another community member suggested that if we want to fight this sale that we will probably lose if we only look at it from the angle of education of the children and the school, we need to look at the wider impact on the community and environmental factors involved.
Mr Minnikin has agreed to meet with our community group. I will need to talk to Paul Robertson to see if we are able to use the school facilities.
Friday evening seemed to be a good time for people as we had a great turn out at the meeting last Friday.
I have drafted the wording for a petition against the sale which was tabled at the meeting, but due to the procedures required by the P&C it cannot go ahead with their name on it as they have formed a working group to investigate further.
My proposal is to go ahead with the petition as a community group and hope that the P&C will endorse it once they have gone through their procedures.
One glimmer of hope I heard was when he said that if we can show some reasons to prevent the sale, he can look into them.
So let’s find the reasons and let him know!
Some Great News !
I wrote a letter to Deputy Mayor Schrinner seeking his support in our fight to keep our valuable asset (the oval) and an assurance that it would remain zoned as education/recreational land.
Below is an excerpt from his response, which I am very encouraged by
"I would be very disappointed to see the sports fields lost and I certainly understand your concerns.
As you would be aware, Council has had no role in the State’s proposal, nor do we have the ability to prevent them selling State land. The only real way that Council can affect the ultimate outcome is that a Development Application would need to be submitted to Council prior to any changes of use of the land.
Any proposed future use/development on this site that does not fall within the definition of Education Purposes would require an Impact Assessible Development Application, including public notification and appeal rights. This means that the community will have the opportunity to lodge formal submission on any proposal.
Having said this, I am sure you would agree that the ideal outcome would be a ‘change of heart’ regarding the proposal to sell the land."
We call on Premier Campbell Newman and the Minister for Education, Training and Employment, Mr John-Paul Langbroek to reverse the decision to sell off Whites Hill State College’s playing fields.
These ovals are well used by the school and the broader community. The Save Whites Hill State College Oval Community Action Group oppose this short-sighted sell off of community assets because:
- Hundreds of children use these playing fields during school terms including the Gateway District secondary school students, the Lytton District primary school students, as well the potential for it to be used for physical education and science classes.
- The sale of the oval will remove potential future growth from the school and valuable space for inter/intra school sports and competitions.
- The Oval and the established trees on the grounds are part of an established Sugar Glider Corridor and selling the land compromises the Brisbane City Council’s Squirrel Glider Corridor Action Plan for Bulimba Creek Catchment Areas (Jones, Chambers, Canaris and Ingram: 2007).
- The Oval has an overland flood path through the centre of it and any potential development of the land would impact on neighbouring properties in flood and rain events, impact greatly on the traffic in the area causing safety issues for children accessing the school and construction noise would impact negatively on the students learning and potential enrolments into the future.
- The sale contradicts the Brisbane City Council’s Draft City Plan for green space and the 2026 vision
Help us save the Whites Hill State College ovals!
I would like to get this up this weekend.