While the NSW Budget has ear-marked $3.5 billion over four years for 24 new and 51 upgraded primary and high schools in Western Sydney, including a new high school for the Schofields/Tallawong catchment, it has been blasted for ignoring growing needs in the Hills.
The Budget included money for upgrades to Northmead High School, Northmead Public School and The Ponds High School and Rouse Hill High and confirmed that a new primary school for Gables/Box Hill area would include an on-site public pre-school but failed to include money for a new high school or primary school at Castle Hill to meet the area’s growing needs.
Hills Shire Council expects an extra 7000 preschool-aged kids and 25,000 additional school-aged students by 2036. Castle Hill Public currently has over 1,100 students enrolled and Castle Hill High has over 2,000 students enrolled.
Both Hills Shire Mayor Peter Gangemi and Castle Hill MP Mark Hodges have hit out at the fact that no money was included in the Budget for much-needed new schools despite the fact that the population is set to grow dramatically with the multiple developments planned around the Showground Metro station.
The NSW Government rezoned the Showground Precinct for medium-to-highdensity development in 2017 as part of its Planned Precinct Program along the Sydney Metro Northwest.
The number of homes was limited to 5,000 until the NSW Government provided the necessary infrastructure but the cap has now been scrapped meaning the precinct will have 9,500 dwellings at total capacity. Over 3,500 homes have already been approved.
Hills Mayor Peter Gangemi said the decision showed absolute disdain for the people of The Hills Shire, which he says is already buckling under the pressure of an infrastructure shortfall.
“In our conversations with the NSW Government, we were told that the number of homes in the Hills Showground would be restricted to 5,000 until a new school site had been identified and funded,” he said.
“Now the Minns government has discarded that, paving the way for almost double the number of homes without the schools so desperately needed by families within The Hills.”
Castle Hill MP and Hills Shire Councillor Mark Hodges said public schools were bursting at the seams.
“The recent funding announcement for schools by the Minns government did not include any new school funding within The Hills, despite the Department of Education raising the need for a school to be located in a priority precinct, such as the Showground.
“By 2036, we will have more than 90,000 new residents living across The Hills; of that number, 20,000 will call the Showground Precinct home.”
A development application for an upgrade for Castle Hill Public which includes: a new threestorey building with flexible classrooms, a new hall, and refurbished administration and staff areas has been submitted to Hills Shire Council.
Enrolments for other schools in the area are:
• Excelsior Public – 610 students
• Samuel Gilbert School Public School – 714 students
• Crestwood Public School – 701 students
• Mathew Pearce Public School – 1,365
• Baulkham Hills High (selective) – over 1,200 students
• Model Farms High School – 1,102
• Crestwood High School – 1,031