It’s with great disappointment that I find myself writing to the Bega District News after reading the Bega Valley Shire Council’s upcoming agenda for Wednesday, August 30.
After much debate in our rural community, discussion with council representatives and an online petition that overwhelmingly supported the idea of returning the Tanja Public School's previous arrangement with the Tanja School of Arts Hall, I find that the council has not listened to the Tanja School, its P&C and the wider community at all.
Why did they bother spending a good deal of time, and therefore ratepayers funds, talking to the school, P&C and reading the communities’ submissions?
My concerns include the ongoing affordability of the annual fee for one of the Bega Valley’s smallest public schools. That the past mutually beneficial relationship between the school and hall committee has been replaced by an unsustainable fee structure, initially without consultation with the school in 2016 when we were first informed of proposed changes by the new hall committee.
As a representative and parent of an under-resourced and under-funded public school I am worried that Tanja School can simply not afford the proposed fees and that current and future students of the school will miss out on continuing a strong and meaningful relationship with their community hall.
The Tanja students are the future of our remote and rural community and need to be viewed as such by the council and hall committee. If the council and Tanja hall committee continue to support this fee amendment the message being sent to the students, and wider community, is that they do not value education of our rural school children.
Continuing the established connection, respect and appreciation of the hall by the school students ensures that the hall is maintained, celebrated and utilised well into the future, as these students and their families become the future hall committees and community leaders, with fond memories of the hall, rather than it being an isolated building removed from their educational experiences.
The final decision made at Wednesday’s meeting will affect the public schools at Wolumla, Quaama, Bemboka and Towamba also. These schools all had individual arrangements with their community halls that they were all happy with. Why make them change?
Due to the Tanja School of Arts new committee believing that “this arrangement provided considerably more benefit to the School than to the Hall”, not only is Tanja School affected, but the other small schools that do not have their own halls on school grounds will have to come into line and pay what the council decides.
This is not the outcome our community wants.
I invite people to read more about this issue, sign our online petition and view the many comments from the community. www.ipetitions.com/petition/tanja-school-needs-affordable-access-to-hall
Michelle Wilkie, Tanja
If you want to find out why years of sub-standard planning have driven most developers out of Bega Shire, to the point where is now risks becoming a stagnant backwater in a far corner of Australia’s fastest-growing and most prosperous state – then come along to the landowners protest meeting on Wednesday, August 30, from 6pm at Club Sapphire, Merimbula.
Hear how Eden’s future is being strangled by the ‘green garrotte’ of Bega Shire’s inappropriate environmental constraints.
This is an eye-opener as to why our ratepayers and their families right across the shire are being denied the greater economic and employment opportunities they should enjoy.