Amberley saviour may prove Churchill's demise



SPECULATION Yamanto could be the new home to Amberley State School has concerned residents and the school community.

Amberley School Community Action Group president Melissa Jose said members were fighting an uphill battle to have Willowbank announced as the preferred site.

But instead, she said rumours put the school in Yamanto next to licensed premises.

"The local community is adamant that we want to relocate to Willowbank and we're doing everything we can for that to happen," Ms Jose said.

Member for Ipswich West Wayne Wendt said the State Government was scouting sites in Yamanto and Willowbank, but said the latter had little suitable space available.

"Yes, Yamanto is being looked at but it's got to be looked at as an option," Mr Wendt said.

"The reality is no site has been selected. We're still looking at sites at Yamanto and Willowbank."

Apart from identifying a 6.5 hectare site, the action group has no other information to conduct its own search.

Ms Jose said 67 schoolchildren came from Willowbank, while just 19 students came from Amberley.

"Wayne Wendt is talking with (Member for Ipswich) Rachel Nolan, which doesn't make us feel very comfortable with that her electorate is Yamanto," she said.

"It will really be the end of Willowbank."

Seven weeks have passed since the Federal Government announced $26.8 million would go towards a new school outside the planned expansion of RAAF Base Amberley, but Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has confirmed correspondence from State Education Minister Rod Welford regarding the new site.

A spokeswoman for Mr Welford could not make specific comment on the letter, saying the Ministers would prefer to discuss the material before an announcement.

However, Mr Nelson's press secretary said it was the State Government's responsibility to consult with the community and inform the public before bringing it to the Defence Department.

That doesn't sit well with Ms Jose who said community consultation had been minimal.

"We've had a lot of difficulty ascertaining even just the guidelines of what a site needs to have," she said.

"They are not consulting with the community much at all."

Ms Jose said the action group felt they had fought for federal funding only to have the State's education department use it to meet its own ends.

"They said we'd have to get the funding, so we secured the funding and its now seven weeks later and there's nothing," she said.

Churchill State School's P&C president Collin White said members were concerned about their school's future if a new site opened in Yamanto.

"The impact on the school would be reduced numbers and there may be designs to close the school," Mr White said.

He emailed Mr Welford for clarification yesterday and was awaiting a response.



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