Shock over Junction school promise backflip 

THE Junction Public School Parents and Citizens Committee says it is shocked and disappointed that Newcastle MP Tim Owen effectively reneged on an election promise for a new building at the school.
Nanjing Night Net

P and C spokeswoman Janet Ball said Mr Owen had backed down from a vow to make the new building his ‘‘top educational infrastructure priority’’ for the region.

Mr Owen said publicly this week he was ‘‘politically naive’’ prior to election and a building to replace demountables at the school was a way down a department priority list.

‘‘[The Junction] was the first thing ever asked of me,’’ he said. ‘‘I didn’t really have a good sense of how these things are managed through a Department of Education infrastructure plan.’’

Mr Owen said top of the Hunter list was buildings for Rutherford High, which is almost entirely made up of demountables, with 14 of the structures.

‘‘[The Junction] certainly isn’t the highest priority in the region or else we would have built it.

‘‘I’m disappointed. I really wanted the school to have that opportunity. For me, it certainly is an educational priority.’’

The school has been campaigning to get a classroom it lost in the 1989 earthquake replaced because the school grounds are overrun by seven demountables.

Mr Owen said the demountables were catering for the 208 children from outside of its zone and he wants to get a project control group together to build a case for a new building and get it moved up the list.

Ms Ball said Premier Barry O’Farrell was not politically naive and had also given parents commitments.

‘‘I feel like we’ve been had,’’ she said.

A NSW Education Department spokesman said the schools involved in the Newcastle Inner City Education Futures project agreed to try to cater to out-of-zone enrolments to allow parents more choice and keep siblings together.

Janet Ball, of the Junction Public School P and C committee, is annoyed at MP Tim Owen’s backdown. Picture: Simone De Peak

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