By TONY FOSTER*
I HAVE long believed that education holds the key to the future growth and development of the whole Brighton municipality as well as the prosperity and well-being of our community.
That is why I supported the development of the unique Jordan River Learning Federation and why I have campaigned long and hard for a new high school at Brighton.
Our municipality is arguably the fastest growing region in Tasmania and the need for the new high school is more than justified. It will certainly help to meet our community’s need for additional educational opportunities for the growing number of young people living here.
The good news following on from the most recent State Election was that the promise for a Brighton High School, costing $30 million and catering for years seven to 12, would be developed over the next four years. Honouring this commitment, the newly elected State Government’s first budget provided an initial allocation of $3 million to start planning works.
This is all very positive and our challenge now is to make sure the promise is delivered in full, and we get the very best high school on the very best site. We want the high school to truly meet the needs of the community and for it to complement the education outcomes of the existing Jordan River Learning Federation (JRLF) and the Farm School.
I am confident we can achieve this and that is what I will be working towards in the immediate future.
The new Brighton High School will serve not only Brighton, but also students from our surrounding region. It will mean that the hundreds of school children who currently are bussed or driven daily to schools in Glenorchy or even further afield, can be educated much closer to home. This is infinitely better for the students and also better for families and adds significantly to the wellbeing of our community as a whole.
While the location of the new high school is a decision for the State Government and the Education Department, Council is keen to play a role and assist in informing the community and representing community views. In line with this objective, last month Council arranged a public consultation session to outline a likely option developed by consultants and to hear from interested members of the community. Details of the consultants’ studies and the public meeting are provided in this issue of Brighton Community News.
I must say that I was heartened by the community interest and broad support for the new high school. I was impressed by many of the comments made and the sensible questions and suggestions made by residents.
Yes, wherever the high school is located, there will undoubtedly be issues regarding traffic at drop-off and pick-up times, and I am sure these and any other minor challenges can be resolved, but overall, the benefits will be immense for our community.
As one young father told me: “I have a four-year-old and a six-year-old and for them both to be educated here in Brighton until they are 18, is tremendous. It is an exciting opportunity and will be great for them and great for our family.”
Others made similar comments. Apart from the short-time traffic issues that I have identified and which I am sure will be resolved, the only other community concerns related to the future of the farm school and the impact on JRLF.
I am confident that the development of the new high school will actually strengthen the farm school and indeed, the State Government has already allocated $4.3 million for improvements this year. I also believe that the impact on JRLF will be positive as few students currently go on to there from Brighton Primary School and to have two senior schools in our municipality will undoubtedly give us increased leverage in dealing with the education authorities in the future.
As well as education, this will encourage more people to consider the Brighton municipality as a great place to live and raise families and in turn, will encourage more growth, development and employment opportunities. This will be good for the whole Brighton community.
As I said at the outset, I firmly believe that education is our future and our young people, and our community deserve the very best opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills. And they are entitled to have this opportunity close to their homes. Through the Jordan River Learning Federation, the invigorated Farm School and the new Brighton High School we will finally achieve this.
That is what Brighton Council has been campaigning to realise for many years and it is what I am determined to ensure is delivered.
*Tony Foster is Mayor of Brighton