By TONY FOSTER*
NEWS the State Government has appointed architects to design the new Brighton High School is welcomed and provides yet further confirmation that this long-awaited and much-needed development will be delivered.
Brighton Council hailed the announcement by Education and Training Minister, Jeremy Rockliff, that the consortium of Jaws Architects and Heffernan Button Voss Architects would undertake the design and that the first student intake would be in 2025.
While some of the government’s critics claimed that the commencement date was a year later than originally promised, the fact remains that the appointment of architects and the commencement of the actual design work represents an important milestone in progressing the high school development.
The new high school is vital for the continued development of our municipality and the surrounding region and it, and the education of our young people, are far too important to be used as a political football in a clumsy effort to score points.
When the new high school opens in 2025, it will bring major educational and social benefits for the community all of which are beyond politics.
I have long believed that education is a key to the growth and development of our community and the new high school is necessary to support our current and increasing population. The announcement of the appointment of architects provides important certainty for the community and we can trust that planning approval and the commencement of construction will logically follow.
Our population is relatively young and with hundreds of children travelling from Brighton for their education every school day, there is a growing need for the new high school here.
State Treasury has forecast that Brighton will be Tasmania’s fastest growing municipality over the next two and a half decades, with the population predicted to rise to more than 24,000 by 2045. It is vital the appropriate services and facilities are provided to cater for this population growth and the provision of education opportunities is vitally important in any healthy and growing community.
Brighton Council has been working for many years to secure the high school development to cater for the significant growth in the municipality and the surrounding region, and this is now another step closer.
It is in line with a key focus of our recently adopted 2050 Vision ‘ensuring quality education and training to meet the needs of everyone’.
The High School project is consistent with Brighton Council’s strategic planning for the growth and development of the municipality now and into the future. When construction starts, it will significantly stimulate local employment. The project will also unlock the co-ordinated development of Brighton’s southern precinct as a new gateway to the town.
The Education Department has established a project working group to begin development of a concept master plan for the high school site at Elderslie Road. The community reference group established in late 2018 will also be reconvened and meet quarterly throughout the development process to provide opportunity to review progress.
Following on from the original allocation of $30 million, a further $20 million was provided in November’s State Budget, taking the total project budget for the high school to $50 million and this should ensure the development of a first-class years seven to 12 education facility.
At the same time, the upgrading of the Jordan River Learning Federation School Farm is progressing and with the Learning Federation itself and our other education and training initiatives, our Municipality will be well-served into the future.
Brighton Council looks forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the State Government to ensure the best, long-term provision of educational outcomes for our community.
On behalf of Brighton Council and our community, I commend Minister Rockliff for his support and the State Government for its commitment to this important project, honouring the promise made prior to the 2018 State Election.
Too often political promises are lost after the votes are in and the election climate passes. But this is an example of a promise being made and delivered and our community will be the big winner.
*Tony Foster AM OAM JP is Brighton Mayor