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Mallard Closes Schools - And Then Does Nothing

Mallard Closes Schools - And Then Does Nothing

Seventy-four of the 192 state schools closed between 1994 and 2002 are still waiting to be disposed of, ACT Education Spokesman Deborah Coddington revealed today.

"The longer these school properties lie idle, the less valuable they become, as they are inevitably targeted by vandals. Figures I have obtained from the Minister of Education show that at least 62 school properties have been waiting for disposal for more than 12 months. Two schools have been sitting idle since 1994.

"The delay in releasing the property for sale is of serious financial concern. Not only does the taxpayer lose out through unrealised assets, but private schools, community groups, early childhood centres and property developers are denied sound buildings - often in very good locations - because the renovation work caused by years of neglect through inaction is too expensive.

"The Minister of Education's snail pace contrasts with his extreme enthusiasm in closing schools down. Since he was elected, there has been a huge increase in closures. There were only one or two closures each year until 1999. Since Mr Mallard arrived, there have been, on average, eight closures a year. In 2001 he made 33 closures. In total - based on the July school rolls of each school in the year that they were closed, around 10,000 children were affected by their institutions being shut down.

"Most of the school closures have been forced because the Minister considered the schools unviable. That shouldn't be the Minister's call.

"From time to time, schools will choose to close or merge. But the Government should not decide which schools stay and which schools go. It is far more appropriate for individual boards of trustee to make an informed decision based on a community's needs. And it is ridiculous when some atrocious schools are propped up by zoning regulations and extra Government funding," Miss Coddington said.

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