Point Cook Schools at Breaking Point

If you’re a parent of school aged children in Point Cook, you’ll be acutely aware that the situation with public schools is at breaking point. We now have four Prep to Year nine campuses, and one senior school, which accommodates Year 10-12 students. Most of these schools are at or over capacity, and, with a huge amount of housing development still underway and planned for Point Cook’s future, the situation will go from bad to worse.

The majority of these schools now contain many more students than they were originally built for, with portable classrooms increasingly taking over open play space and vegetable gardens, such as the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden at Point Cook College that has recently been all but destroyed to bring in new buildings.

Portables take over the Kitchen Garden - Point Cook College, 2013

Portables take over the Kitchen Garden – Point Cook College, 2013

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden - Point Cook College 2010

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden – Point Cook College, 2010

 

As far as the Point Cook Action Group is concerned, we have two major problems that need addressing with schools.

  1. Whilst ‘planning’ for further Prep-9 schools seems to be on track with two land sites allocated to future schools in current estates (as well as another planned site in the Werribee Employment Precinct on the Point Cook side of the Freeway), we desperately need funding to build these schools. This is to a) help take pressure off overcrowded existing schools, and b) keep on track for adequate number of schools for current and future population growth.
  2. There has not been any land set aside for the development of another senior campus in Point Cook. This lack of foresight demonstrates inadequate planning beyond the next five to ten years of population growth. We cannot simply turn around in ten years’ time and say, we need to build another senior school when there has been no land set aside to do so.

Population Growth

abs_censusBetween the 2006 and 2011 census time points, Point Cook welcomed over 18,000 residents. However, only two new P-9 schools were opened during this time period to accommodate the extra 5,000 residents under 15 years of age. As the current annual population increase for Wyndham is estimated at 7.1%, it is estimated that Point Cook has grown by another 4,000 residents since the 2011 census. During this time, just one new P-9 school was built to accommodate an increase of approximately 1120 residents under 15 years of age.

Current Schools

The public schools currently available in Point Cook are as follows:

School Year Levels Number of students (approx.) Year opened
Carranballac – 2 Campuses Prep-9 1425 2002 and 2006
Point Cook Senior Years 10-12 700 2008
Point Cook College Prep-9 1300 2010
Alamanda College Prep-9 (currently P-6) 400 2013

 

Planned Prep-9 Schools

There are currently two planned schools in Featherbrook and Saltwater Coast Estates, both of which are Prep-9. However, in April 2013, Premier Denis Napthine announced the funding for the schools to be opened in 2015, and neither of these sites were selected, despite the obvious need for such funding. In particular, the Featherbrook school is in desperate need.

apples_chalkboard_pvWhen Matthew Guy approved the Precinct Structure Plan for Point Cook West in November 2012, he did so with no planned school within the community, nor any promises of funding to develop the Featherbrook School site which will be an absolute necessity to cope with the further increase to our population. A quick look at the map reveals that the closest school, and therefore most likely zoned school, to this precinct is Point Cook P-9 College – arguably the most overcrowded of all the schools in Point Cook. This further exacerbates the dire need for funding for the Featherbrook school site.

Lack of planning for another Senior School

high schoolNowhere in any of the current or planned estates for Point Cook, has land been allocated to the development of another Senior School Campus. Whilst Point Cook Senior is not yet at capacity (1,100) it will only be a matter of 3-5 years before it this has been reached. Currently, it is estimated that there are around 500 prep students enrolled in our four Prep-9 schools – which in ten years’ time will account to at least 500 students potentially enrolling in Year ten at Point Cook Senior (double the current number of Year ten enrollments).

Matthew Guy was quoted in the Wyndham Weekly as saying; “The demographic of Point Cook doesn’t demand schools running from prep to Year 12. More high schools will happen when the demand comes.” Whilst this may make sense based on our current population data (although we need to remember that the 2011 Census is already two years out of date!), one does beg the question as to where ‘more high schools’ will be built if the land is not set aside for them now.

We need your help!

Pencils on a blank notebookThe Point Cook Action Group has just begun a campaign to bring these issues to the attention of the Victorian Premier, Denis Napthine, along with Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, and Minister for Education, Martin Dixon. We urge Point Cook residents to get on board and write to these politicians urging them to reconsider the long term planning for the education of our young students. Namely, to:

  • Allocate funding for at least one of the proposed Prep-9 schools in Point Cook (Featherbrook and Saltwater Coast Estates)
  • Allocate land for a proposed senior school to be build when the demographic of Point Cook requires another campus.

Points you may wish to include in your letter:

  • Our Prep-9 schools are overcrowded; more portables arriving yearly and larger classroom sizes
  • There are several estates still being developed (Saltwater Coast, Kingsford, Saratoga, Paragon, Sanctuary Lakes and Point Cook West); we need additional funding for the proposed Prep-9 schools to be built to keep up with demand and ease the burden on our existing schools
  • There was no new funding for any of the proposed Prep-9 sites announced in the next budget – we will have to wait till at least 2016 before a new school is built in Point Cook
  • Point Cook Senior has a ceiling of approximately 1,100 students, which will likely reach capacity within a few short years
  • There are no proposed sites in any Precinct Structure Plans for another senior school to be built in Point Cook
  • Where will our Year ten students go to school in five-ten years’ time when Point Cook Senior reaches breaking point?
  • Why do we not have any choice of where to send our children in Point Cook for their Senior Education?
  • If Matthew Guy will plan a senior school when the population demands it, where does he propose on building this school?

Some solutions you may wish to include in your letter:

  • SolutionAllocate some land in the new Werribee Employment Precinct Plan (Point Cook section) for a senior campus for Point Cook. If this site is not available, another site must be found and set aside for a senior campus before it’s too late.
  • When the Prep-9 school at Featherbrook is finally built, design it so it can be easily converted into a high school when the time comes. For example, as the student population ages, younger year levels can be dropped off as older year levels are added in, i.e. stop Prep intake when the time arises for Year ten intake to occur. Or, design and build the Featherbrook school as a Prep-12 school, where senior intake can come from any neighbouring schools.

Make sure you make your letter personal, and make it clear how the current and future situation affects you and your family.

Who to write to:

 Thank you all for your help in making Point Cook the best place it can be!

Williams Landing – ‘Sneak Peak’

Williams Landing Station 1

Williams Landing Train Station

Williams Landing Train Station is set to open for commuters on Sunday April 28th, and to celebrate, Public Transport Victoria (PTV) held a ‘Sneak Peak’ this morning where members of the public could have a look at the new facilities.

The publicity of the event was commendable, with brochures in letter boxes, advertisements online and in newspapers, and as a result, the organisers of this event ought to be really happy with the turn out!

Hundreds of people were in attendance, from babies to the elderly, all coming out on a windy Sunday morning for a bit of a nosey. Several shuttle buses brought Williams Landing residents in droves, the car park was almost full, and several people came by foot or bicycle.

There are some really fantastic aspects of this new station. It will be extremely convenient for Residents of Williams Landing, who will have easy access via road or foot from several vantage points at the South end of the suburb (once the roads open and the development is finished).

Williams Landing Ramp

Ramp to the train platform

Its fantastic to see a train station with pedestrian foot ramps from both Williams Landing and Point Cook, as well as stairs and elevators to provide different options for commuters to reach the station which is situated above the train tracks. Along the pedestrian ramps that were open today, there were benches part way up for those who needed to take a break as the ramps are quite a long walk.

Williams Landing Platform

Williams Landing Platform

The train platform is excellent. Access is available via ramp, stairs or elevator. There are electronic notice boards, plenty of shelter and benches available for waiting.

There are five bus shelters available, one for each of the bus routes that will access the station. Each shelter provides six seats and a timetable of the route, and they all have fantastic overhead shelter for rain.

Williams Landing Bus shelter

Bus Shelter

The whole bus area is monitored by the use of several video surveillance cameras, hopefully making a safe environment for commuters throughout the day and night. A rather small bike shed, with space for 16 hanging and perhaps 10 or so bikes on the floor, is also available in the bus shelter area.

 

There are, unfortunately, several issues that are being discussed in the media and social media, and only time will tell which of these will become serious problems for commuters after the station is open.

Williams Landing bus stops

Row of five bus stops

There is no bus lane on Palmers Road from Point Cook to Williams Landing station. As residents of Point Cook are well aware, this, and every other road out of Point Cook, is at a standstill from around 7am-9am on week days. Adding four new bus routes in Point Cook, all of which travel down Palmers Road to the train station every 22 minutes – around 10 buses an hour – can only add to the stress of commuters heading to the freeway every morning.

Residents of Point Cook are already frustrated with our bus service, with them being unreliable and inefficient – one of which was reportedly cancelled in peak hour because it couldn’t get through the traffic. With these new buses stuck in the freeway traffic on Palmers Road, it is unlikely they will make it to their destination on time. One does wonder why the buses couldn’t drop commuters off at Wallace Ave for them to access the station from the massive new footbridge that spans the freeway. As a fellow PCAG Board Member stated to me at the event this morning:

sitting on a bus which is stuck in traffic on top of the Palmers Road bridge, will infuriate passengers as they watch their trains take off below without them.

The other issue with the buses at the station is that it is possibly up to a five minute walk (possibly longer for those with mobility issues)  for commuters to travel between the bus stops and the train platforms. One can only hope that the bus timetable takes this into account when trying to marry the bus and the train services together.

Williams Landing Car park

Williams Landing Car Park

The car park at the station reportedly holds 500 cars and several residents have already expressed their concern that the car park will be overflowing from day one. Today, I estimate the car park was at least 3/4 full when I left the event around 11am. As many people had walked or come to the event via a free shuttle bus service, I’m inclined to agree that it just wont be big enough to meet demands.

However, if the new bus routes proves to be an excellent service that manages to get through the traffic on Palmers Road, snake around the dog leg, and reaches the station on time, with time allocated to reach the platform, perhaps we’ll see hundreds of commuters from Point Cook take the bus and train instead.

Time will tell, and I’m sure we all have our fingers crossed!

Were you at the opening today? What did you think?

 

Wyndham City Unveils Proposed 2012/13 Budget

Wyndham City is encouraging residents to have their say on plans for the municipality over the next 12 months, with plans unveiled for $83 million in capital works, along with a modest 5.5 per cent average rates rise as part of the proposed 2012/2013.

From improvement works at the Wyndham Leisure and Events Centre to interactive kiosks at some of Wyndham’s libraries, the proposed budget has a wide range of Capital Works and new initiatives.

The proposed budget, which was endorsed by Wyndham City at a special meeting on Monday, includes an increase in the municipal charge from $37.30 to $39.25 and the garbage charge from $224 to $254.25. The increased garbage charge is significantly impacted by the increase in the State Government EPA levy from $44 per tonne to $48.40 per tonne as well as the introduction of the Carbon Tax.

Key projects that are part of the proposed $83.83 million Capital Works budget include:

  • Tarneit Garden’s Community and Ageing Well Centre – $9.4 million
  • Redevelopment of Wyndham Leisure and Events Centre at 80 Derrimut Rd– $9.36 million
  • Hacketts Rd Reconstruction (Sneydes Rd to Urban Growth Boundary) – $3.28 million
  • Wootten Road Reserve – $2.97 million
  • Alamanda Kindergarten and Children’s Centre – $2.28 million
  • Heathdale Glen Orden Pavilion refurbishment – $2.26 million
  • Tarneit North Kindergarten and Children’s Centre – $2.18 million
  • Hogans Road Oval 2 Reconstruction – $1.85 million
  • Princes Highway Service Rd (Frederick Court to No. 309) – $1.45 million
  • Galvin Park Soccer Pitch Construction (four pitches) – $874,000
  • Neighbourhood park upgrade and renewal (city-wide) – $769,000
  • Hogans Road change rooms, car park and part cost of Pavilion – $627,000
  • Design of Williams Landing Oval – $431,000 (funded through developer contributions)
  • North Gateway Drive (Greens Rd to Feathertop Drive), Wyndham Vale – $405,000
  • Design of Tarneit Library – $338,000
  • Major Gateway Landscape program – $308,000
  • Diggers Road Guard Rails – $205,000

Wyndham City has also proposed $1.11 million for new initiatives in key service delivery areas including:

  • Development of Signage for Historical Tourism Sites in Wyndham
  • Interactive Children’s Kiosks at three of Wyndham’s Libraries
  • Staging of increased events to further develop relationships with the business community
  • Increased tree planting in parks
  • Expansion of the City’s Senior’s Festival
  • Development of a site structure plan for 1160 Sayers Road
  • Environmental Risk Assessment, adaption Research and Modelling.

Wyndham Mayor Cr Kim McAliney said the 2012/2013 proposed budget provided a balance between delivering vital services and capital works for the fastest growing City in the State while demonstrating financial responsibility.

“While this draft budget has been months in the making, it’s not complete until we have heard from the community,” Cr McAliney said.

“The first stage of community consultation allowed residents and community groups to have their say on what they would like to see in the budget. Items included in the proposed 2012/2013 budget based on previous community consultation include signage for historic sites in Wyndham and the creation of a fenced dog off lead park in Point Cook. We’re now asking residents to review the draft budget and submit their feedback before it is formally adopted next month.”

“The proposed average rates increase of 5.5 per cent demonstrates Wyndham City’s commitment to reducing the burden on ratepayers, while allowing enough of an increase to fund vital projects and maintain financial sustainability. The residential rates increase is set at 4.54 per cent, however being a revaluation year – the rates increase or decrease could vary for each property depending on the valuation.”

“Wyndham City’s proposed capital works program of $83.83 million provides vital capital works for the growing City, while demonstrating the necessary restraint to ensure long term financial sustainability in light of the broader economic climate. In 2012/13 Wyndham City is proposing to spend $45.74 on new assets and the remaining $38.09 million on asset upgrades, balancing the need to provide new infrastructure in growth areas with the need for renewal in more established suburbs.”

“As part of the $83.83 capital works program, $37.08 million will be spent on buildings, $11.18 million on open space and associated developments and $29.13 million on roads and pavements.”

“The proposed 2012/13 budget Council features over $4 million for services for young families. This includes $1.2 million on 93 kindergarten groups in 21 centres for approximately 2,050 children, almost $2.4 million for enhanced maternal and child health services for children from birth to 4 to support over 3,500 births anticipated this financial year and $346,472 for facilitated playgroup support for community run playgroups.”

“Wyndham’s parks, gardens and reserves will also get a boost this budget, with 5 new sporting ovals to be constructed in 2012/2013 and $250,000 to be spent on planting trees in parks across the municipality, in addition to the $500,000 being spent on street trees.

“Ultimately, the works and services provided by the proposed 2012/2013 budget are funded by ratepayers, so I encourage residents to take time to read through the document and have their say. In previous years, Wyndham City has been able to accommodate a number of different suggestions from funding for community groups to capital works at local sporting grounds.”

A public meeting to discuss the proposed budget will be held on Thursday, 24th May 2012. Residents and stakeholders then have until 5pm, on Monday, 11th June 2012 to provide feedback on what is proposed. 

PCAG has the opportunity to provide feedback to Wyndham City on this proposed budget. What sort of things would you like us to put forward in relation to this budget on your behalf?  Tell us in the comments below.