THE Perth Girls School in East Perth should be re-opened to attract families to inner-city Perth says Reece Harley.
Mr Harley, who’s a Perth councillor but pushing the idea as chair of the Museum of Perth, says Barnett government plans to sell the site for a hotel development are short-sighted, given there’s a heap of hotels already in the pipeline and the economy’s tanking.
“It’s better in terms of its heritage and history,“ Cr Harley says in reference to renovating the heritage-listed school.
“The benefit of using it as a school is the architects designed it to be a school, so you’re not having to make major structural changes to the building.”
“The city of Perth used to be a centre for school education, and sadly as residents moved out of the city and spread to the suburbs throughout the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, those public schools have been closed.”
Local mum Kristy Dai says family-sized apartments are popping up in the city, but without a school, parents might be reluctant to buy them.
Andrew Flavell’s daughter goes to Highgate primary school; as the finch flies it’s just over a kilometre away, but given serpentine road layouts, train crossings and peak hour traffic it adds an hour to his day doing drop-offs and pick-ups. The bus takes 45 minutes.
“The traffic’s a bit of a pig at that time of day,” he says. “If you get stuck in traffic, if there’s any works going on, or something happening at NIB stadium with a few roads closed, it can be an absolute pain.”
Travel times aside, Highgate’s getting packed, he says. “The standard of teaching is very good, but the issue is space,” he says.
“We just need another school. As class sizes go up, it’s not fair on the kids, it’s not fair on the teachers.”
Perth MP Eleni Evangel says school resources are a priority, but she doesn’t believe the girls school site is needed.
“This state government has committed $5.5 million to Highgate primary school for a two-storey build to be completed for the commencement of 2018,” Ms Evangel says.
“This will cater for the growing inner-city demand for primary education. I expect Mr Hawthorn and North Perth will be in line next.
“An inner city school is definitely on the agenda however it will be driven by numbers and actual demand.”
She says education department figures suggest an inner-city school will be needed in 5 – 10 years.
“The old Perth Girls School comes up again and again as an option, however I believe the site has already been assessed by the education department and is not recommended.”
She thinks the nearby education department buildings in Royal Street would be better.
“There is plenty of green space nearby and the area is centrally located, accessible to all inner-city residents with good CAT bus connectivity.”
Mr Harley says the unused licensing department pits across the road from the girls school could be used for a playing field if Bronte Street was turned into a cul de sac.
by DAVID BELL