School Plan Grounded

BEECHBORO Christian School in Bennett Springs is fast approaching capacity and seeking new premises to accommodate unprecedented enrolments.

The school thought it had the perfect plan: buy unused government land 200m down the road and build a bigger school to service the wider community.

With the State Government�s forthcoming asset sales and school building program in full swing, the Swan Christian Education Association sought to strike while the iron was hot and make an offer on the land.

But the Department of Education has refused to consider selling the vacant land, despite having no plans to build a school on the site at the corner of Bennett Springs Drive and Crystal Turn.

Department infrastructure director John Fischer said the State Government bought the land in 2002 but had not built a school due to �slow residential growth in the area�.

�However, if development does occur in the future as expected the land needs to continue to be set aside, as building a school may be required,� he said.

Residential growth or not, Beechboro Christian School (BCS) has seen its student population increase from 170 to 256 in the last 12 months.

The school is leasing land from the Cracovia Club, but the buildings in this location have room for only 350 students.

Principal Steven Coote said the school was willing to pay market value for the land and build a school that the community had been waiting years to get.

�The challenge for us is to grow at a rate we can sustain, but also to grow at a rate that meets the needs of the community and people in new developments as they arise,� he said.

�How do we actually continue to grow in a way that meets demand that we can actually sustain? We�re here to try facilitate with the Government�s financial woes.

�All we want to do is have a conversation to say there�s a possibility to establish a quality school in an area that�s zoned for education.�

West Swan MLA Rita Saffioti compiled community feedback about the proposal for BCS to buy the land and said residents were overwhelmingly in favour of the idea.

�Given there are no plans to build a new public school on the site, the next best option is for the Government to allow Swan Christian Education Association to purchase the land to relocate the BCS,� she said.

�The site has been neglected for too long and should be put to use for the local community.�

The State Government recently quashed plans for a primary school in south Caversham in favour of Byford.