Hammer set to fall on Yaraka school

Hammer set to fall on Yaraka school

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Former Yaraka school principal Gerry Gimblett, outside the school which is now up for sale.

Former Yaraka school principal Gerry Gimblett, outside the school which is now up for sale.

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AN ambitious plan to keep not only the school building but an educational presence in the small town of Yaraka in the state's central west appears to have fallen on deaf ears with Education Queensland.

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AN ambitious plan to keep not only the school building but an educational presence in the small town of Yaraka in the state's central west appears to have fallen on deaf ears with Education Queensland.

At a time when debate rages about the sale of large assets to service government debt, a "For Sale" sign has gone up in front of the disused school building, much to the concern of locals.

The small community of 12 learnt that the building would be offered at auction on site on July 19 when the sign was placed on the front fence a week or so ago.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Education, Training and Employment, John-Paul Langbroek said the school had closed under the previous government in 2009 and had been vacant for some time.

"The department has an $18 billion property portfolio so regularly buys and sells land and sites," she said.

"Once a school has been closed for an extensive period of time the site is usually progressed for sale."

She said the Yaraka Sports and Progress Association would have the opportunity to acquire the site once the property had been placed on the open market.

Suggestions by members of the community to reopen the building as a community education centre seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Gerry Gimblett was the teaching principal at Yaraka between the years of 1986 and 1993 and has now taken on the ownership of the local hotel in partnership with her husband Chris and son Nick.

She would like to see the Education Department base a paraprofessional at the school as part of the state's distance education system, working under the direction of staff from Longreach, to provide tutoring support for remote families.

"Ideally, if DETE could cover the cost of a paraprofessional to provide tutoring support, not only for children in town but also for children on properties, the local community would be happy to meet the maintenance needs of the site as well as the accommodation needs of the person.

"I have spoken to families, who would welcome the chance to bring their children in a couple of days a week."

Gerry said this was not the same as reopening the school but would be a cheaper option.

She claimed a departmental costing of setting up an interactive classroom showed it would recoup the costs of a principal, a teacher-aide and a cleaner within 12 months.

"As far as the minister is concerned, no more school closures would be needed with this model," she said.

Advantages she lists include an easier mechanism to cope with fluctuating enrolment numbers, giving parents certainty, and giving local education options up to Year 10.

She also envisages the building becoming a hub for video forums, allowing adult education options.

"A school building says to a community, education is important," Gerry said.

"Selling it off sends a message of devaluation."

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