School cuts show nothing sacred under Newman Govt: oppn

THE Opposition believes the Newman Government is taking an axe to schools and using it as an excuse to "prop up their bottom line".

Shadow treasurer Curtis Pitt said nothing was more scared to a local community than its local school.

"If schools are going to be on the table then nothing is sacred under the Newman Government," Shadow Treasurer Curtis Pitt said.

"It is 55 communities across Queensland that may well be experiencing the loss of a community hub, something that is very important to them.

"It is not just about the educational output that happens in the schools. These schools provide a place of haven during cyclones, a place of safety for students to go to at a time in need.

"This isn't as simple as putting these on the market."

Mr Pitt said the Newman Government was "less about school viability and more about how much they could get for any particular school".

"I think they are really taking the axe to schools and using that as an excuse to prop up their bottom line," he said.


Rural and remote schools ruled out for closures

RURAL and remote schools with less than five students will not be in the firing line as the State Government investigates closing under-utilised and "crumbling" public schools.

It has been revealed through a ministerial briefing note released under Right to Information laws that the Education Department has identified 55 schools for potential closure.

The briefing note, dated August 8, 2012, states $13 million could be saved per year from 2013-2014 on top of a $2.8 million saving in maintenance liability if the schools were closed.

The targeted school included 14 in the Far North Queensland region, 10 in North Queensland, eight in the North Coast, Darling Downs and South West, two in the south-east, seven in metropolitan and six in Central Queensland.

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek on Monday morning rejected the information but confirmed he was considering some closures.

"Of course the government doesn't just accept advice like that from the department," he said.

"We actually say there are a significant number of issues we have to consider when it comes to potentially closing schools.

"It's a reasonable thing to do to look at our $18 billion asset portfolio because we have to provide schooling and education, of course, and we are obviously going to do that."

Mr Langbroek has ruled out closing rural and remote schools "in 2013".

"If distance education is going to be their only option if we were to close the school then we are ruling it out completely," he said.

"Those rural and remote schools...are not included for 2013 consideration at all. In other words, we have said rural and remote students with less than five students are not considered especially if they are more than 20 kilometres from another school in 2013."

The Education Department will take into account how much money is to be saved through closing under-utilised schools as well as how far students travel to attend school, how close nearby schools are and what curriculum is offered.

He said parents couldn't be expected to drive too far to take their children to alternative schools.

"I want to reassure people in rural and regional Queensland that small schools are not being closed simply because they are small," he said.

Asked how far was "too far", Mr Langbroek said in some areas, 20km was not "insurmountable".

Mr Langbroek confirmed decisions had to be made over the next couple of months.

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