It is time new schools were built on the Northern Beaches!
THE Northern Beaches - as the fastest growing area on the Coffs Coast - is in desperate need of new schools to deal with a growing population that is predominantly made-up of young families.
Korora, Sapphire Beach, Moonee Beach, Emerald Beach and Sandy Beach have all seen extraordinary growth over the past five years and massive future growth is forecast proving the point that's been raised by parents.
The need for a new school was a key topic raised at The Advocate's recent Future Coffs Harbour forum and it's one that has been strongly supported by parents whose children attend both the Sandy Beach and Kororo public schools.
The Advocate can today reveal government statistics in 2018 showed that Kororo Public School has more students per teachers than any other school on the Coffs Coast.
Statistically speaking that is a ratio of 18.5 students for every teacher in the classrooms.
The stats support the analogies of local parents who say Kororo and Sandy Beach public schools are at 'breaking point.'
It is expected the recently released Local Growth Management Strategy by Coffs Harbour City Council allowing large lot residential development across Korora, Sapphire and Moonee Beach, coupled with next stage development of North Sapphire Beach Estate will only add further pressure to already bursting local public schools.
"Addressing the infrastructure needs of the Northern Beaches of Coffs Harbour is central to the sustainable growth of the Northern Beaches Community" says father-of-three Christopher Winn.
"While a new primary school is needed to ensure adequate options for residents, we need to get ahead of the game.
"A high school, or mixed primary and secondary school is needed to deal with so many young families moving to the area."
He said many people attending The Advocate's recent 'Future Coffs Harbour' forum at Southern Cross University voiced concerns surrounding the lack of energy from Coffs Harbour City Council and the State Government in putting pressure on the Department of Education to release a detailed plan for the area.
"The community is calling for clarity surrounding the development of Department of Education-owned lands, west of the highway at Moonee Beach."
The Advocate can reveal that in July last year, the then Minister for Education Rob Stokes in a detailed letter to former Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser remarked:
"The department is aware of the growing population and its impact on public schools in the vicinity of Moonee Beach.
"To address this, the department plans to carry out an assessment of the long-term education infrastructure needs of the area in early 2019 in order to develop strategies to meet enrolment demand.
Future Coffs Harbour panellist Nanette Backhouse raised the issue on behalf of parents living on the Northern Beaches at the Future Coffs Harbour forum.
She explained how her daughter formerly attended Kororo Public School.
"Parents know that the classes there are just getting bigger, it got to the point when our daughter was there that kids were having play-time on a rotation. Classes of 25-26 children," Nanette said.
"Just through what friends of ours are now saying the amount of people moving into the area can't be sustained by the current public school system.
"Kororo teachers and staff are doing a great job, don't get me wrong, but as a parent with a child at the school I just couldn't see how the schools could support more student enrolments without greater infrastructure.
"You can't have development on one side of things and not have investment in infrastructure at the same time," she said.
Leading demographer and social commentator Benard Salt was quick to point out that his data on the growth of the northern beaches highlighted the need for more schools to be built in coming years.
"The Moonee Beach area is where young families, with high median wages, are choosing to live - there's an above average population in those suburbs of 25 to 34-year-olds. They are the working professionals or small business owners of Coffs Harbour with young children," Bernard said.
"Yes without question there is strong evidence to support the need for further schools to be established to support that growth between now and 2030."
So the Advocate raised the issue with the Department of Education about what planning was underway investigating the need for new schools between Korora and Sandy Beach.
"The Department of Education monitors population and development trends in NSW, including in the Coffs Harbour area, to plan and provide for changes in enrolment demand," a spokesman for the department said.
"The department regularly consults with relevant departments and agencies such as the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), local councils and local developers.
"The department produces student enrolment projections based on the NSW population projections from the DPIE."