Elderslie High School
Dr KERNOHAN (Camden) [5.45 p.m.]: I speak on behalf of the staff and students at Elderslie High School. Currently, there are 1,050 students at Elderslie High School, a school that was opened in 1981. At that time it was the biggest and best high school complex in Camden. As a result of the construction of Camden High School, it is now the oldest. After 21 years, certain things are happening to the buildings and the school is finding it difficult to maintain a standard that is acceptable to high school students. The school has had ongoing problems with maintenance contractors and with the Public Works Department attending to maintenance issues within the school. Last year the school spent $67,000 on maintenance—on building, equipment and grounds—in an effort to maintain a reasonable standard at the facility. Although that was well in excess of 7 per cent of global funds, none of it was recouped from the Department of Education and Training.
In spite of every effort the school is still experiencing problems. For example, there is severe termite damage in the library, which is affecting both the male and female toilet entrances. There are permanently leaking gutters. There is damage to carpets, walls and internal building frames as a result of water damage. There is an office with no carpet and the occupational health and safety hazard of rising concrete dust is ever present. There are numerous trip hazards in many parts at the school, in particular on major walkways. There is broken brickwork, path subsidence and cracked walls, all of which have been neglected for many years. The school cannot find the money to fix these problems. There is an additional problem—that of the proposed new urban release area, the Elderslie infill.
The department has written to members of the Elderslie Residents Group informing them that secondary students will be accommodated at the adjacent Elderslie High School. The school is experiencing difficulties maintaining itself to an appropriate standard for present students, let alone additional students. Staff and parents are becoming increasingly vocal about the dilapidated state of the school. But there is another problem. Everybody in Camden who has anything to do with Elderslie High School has a copy of a letter written by the Premier late in 1995 when he was Leader of the Opposition, promising that a stage facility would be built in Elderslie High School hall—another broken promise which is aggravating the situation and generating the feeling that Elderslie High School is not being looked after by the Government.
Recently within the Camden electorate—and I include in that my sections of Campbelltown—there have been major break-ins in schools. The new Camden High School was broken into and thefts occurred and that was even before students took up residence. Elderslie High School also needs approximately $30,000 to provide sensor lights and fencing to try to improve security at that school and to prevent vandalism and theft. There has been a lot of growth in Camden and a number of new schools were built, which were an absolute necessity because of that population growth. This Government has to look after old schools and ensure that they are kept in a condition that is suitable and up to the general standards of schools in New South Wales. I ask the Minister for Education and Training to look into this matter, to ensure that Elderslie High School has enough funds for maintenance, and to ensure that it is able to keep its school buildings in a good condition.
Mr MARKHAM (Wollongong—Parliamentary Secretary) [5.50 p.m.]: I have listened to what the honourable member for Camden has had to say and it sounds as though the school is in a sorry state. The honourable member is lucky the Parliamentary Secretary for Education has also heard what she had to say and I have no doubt he will take it up with the Minister tomorrow.