Plans to build a $60 million, 1200-student school at Aberglasslyn are in limbo with negotiations between Maitland City Council and private educator St Philip’s Christian College at a standstill.
St Philip’s Executive Principal, Graeme Irwin, has told Fairfax Media he still wants to hold discussions with council over the purchase of council-owned land off Weblands Street, but said talks seem to have become “bogged down” with the ball firmly in council’s court.
Council’s Group Manager Strategy, Performance and Business Systems, Leah Flint, said council is working through the items outlined in a council resolution in November, “to ensure the best value to the community and to council is achieved”.
Mr Irwin said St Philip’s is committed to building a school and possibly a zero-to-five-years early education centre in Maitland, but finding land has been a problem.
He said the matter regarding the site at Aberglasslyn remained with council. “There seems to be no movement on that at all. This needs to be pushed along a bit because it’s a little bogged down.
“I realise this is not a quick process but St Philip’s is now at the stage where it is looking at any land sites that would be suitable and large enough for us to build on in the Maitland Local Government Area.
“We can access grants for a new school and that makes this a very viable project,” Mr Irwin said.
“The project would be a 15-year plan starting with a junior school from Kindergarten to Year 4, a middle school for Years 5 to 8 and a senior school for Years 9 to 12,” he said. The new school would employ about 150 staff.
Fairfax Media recently reported that Hunter schools top NSW for overcrowding with Rutherford High School identified as having 15 demountable classrooms, the most in the region, indicating that local State schools are full or exceeding capacity.
A demographic analysis conducted by McCrindle Research and commissioned by St Philip’s, indicated that the school-aged population in the Maitland Local Government Area will grow by 4267 extra students by 2031.
“In addition, the study indicated that there is a rising demand for independent education and that the current provision is not quite adequate,” Mr Irwin said.
St Philip’s has colleges in Newcastle, Cessnock, Gosford and Port Stephens with more than 4000 students.