Darlington School rebuild
A public meeting about plans to upgrade Darlington Public School took place on Wednesday May 16 and was attended by about 100 interested parents and concerned residents. The Department of Education is looking at a program of upgrading schools and updating buildings in response to population growth.
The first speaker, Port Jackson Director Richard Skinner, explained the planning process and the need for the upgrade: an increase in school population from about 350 to about 550. He said they were doing technical studies, including concept designs to prepare a business case. He explained that the reticence in releasing details at an early stage is to avoid raising expectations.
The second speaker, Paul Powers, Director of Infrastructure for the department, talked more about the background and process, including project management and the technical issues, but with little firm information and illegible visuals.
Then the president of the P&C, Sarah Penn, opened it up for discussion.
In response to a question from Cr Linda Scott, the Education Department personnel committed to consultation with Council, even though as a state significant site, they are not obliged to.
What transpired from the Q&A was that there are a number of scenarios for the upgrade, and that the audience was well aware of the issues. The options discussed were: (1) to expand the school on the existing site by additions, preferably by retaining function on site; (2) to demolish and re-build on the current site – and relocate the school to another site for a minimum of two years; (3) to build a new school on another site – they did not identify sites, although the potential for a new school on the North Eveleigh site was raised.
The audience also responded on butcher’s paper to questions regarding the future, which have also been canvassed in an online survey conducted by the P&C. These ask what should be: preserved at the school (things the school has now and they want to keep); added to the school (things the school doesn’t have now but they would like to see included in the new build); removed from the school (things the school does have now but they don’t want in the new school); and kept out of the school (things the school doesn’t have now and that they definitely don’t want to see appear in the new build).
Further information is available on the department’s Infrastructure website https://www.schoolinfrastructure.nsw.gov.au. The website classifies this upgrade as a new school in the Design Stage, one step along from the Planning Stage. The present school was built in 1975.