RESURRECTED: New Lower Clarence high school back on agenda

MOMENTUM is building in the debate for a new high school to be built in the Lower Clarence region to replace Maclean High School.

It is envisaged the new state of the art facility would be built on a green field site away from the current site which is restricted in terms of future growth and is adjacent to a large bat colony and a cemetery.

Clarence Valley councillor and parent Peter Ellem has previously voiced his personal support for the construction of a new school in the Lower Clarence.

Clarence Valley Council candidate Peter Ellem.
Clarence Valley Council candidate Peter Ellem. Adam Hourigan Photography

The idea has been suggested as a solution to the flying fox situation at Maclean High School, which has been the source of major debate within the council and NSW Government for a number of years.

"I understand there's a wildlife and human conflict and it's driving people crazy. I think relocation is a more practical long-term solution than dispersal," Cr Ellem told The Daily Examiner this week.

"But the flying fox issue aside, I think a new school is something that's needed demographically. I think it's inevitable that a new school has to be built on a green field site to cater for the growing population of the Lower Clarence.

"In the whole scheme of things it's not a bad investment."

Should a new high school be built in the Lower Clarence?

This poll ended on 03 October 2017.

Current Results

Yes. Maclean High will not be able to cope with the Lower Clarence's growing population.

37%

Yes. Students and teachers have had to put up with filth from the bats for long enough.

13%

Yes. Whose idea was it to put the school beside a cemetery?

10%

Yes. Keep Maclean High but build a new school for Yamba.

22%

No. It's fine the way it is.

0%

No. A firmer stance needs to be taken to remove the bats.

10%

No. Just revamp the current school into a state of the art facility.

4%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

A new campus would also help reverse a worrying trend of students from the Lower Clarence region drifting to Grafton schools, Cr Ellem said.

Cr Ellem, who was not aware of the newly formed New High School for Lower Clarence collective, said previous attempts to generate interest in a new school had fizzled out and it would need widespread community support to be successful.

"It needs to have a broader community response from P&Cs, teachers and students," Cr Ellem said.

"I think it could be done within a few years with the right amount of political will.

"I've been saying to council that because of the poles and wires sale, the State Government is flush with funding, and a few months ago the Education Minister Rob Stokes said they have money to build new schools."

Cr Ellem did not indicate where he thought would be the ideal location for a new school. However, he said possible sites at Yamba, Townsend-Gulmarrad and James Creek had been brought u in previous conversations.

Bats fly over Maclean: A swarm of bats filled the night sky over Maclean last night
Bats fly over Maclean: A swarm of bats filled the night sky over Maclean last night

Cr Ellem suggested that the Maclean High School site could be turned into a research centre and tourist attraction.

"It could become a scientific research centre on bats," he said.

100,000 bats fill Grafton skyline at dusk: A serial pest or tourist attraction? More than 100,000 flying foxes have called Susan Island home this summer, resulting in spectacular scenes every night at dusk when they leave their camp and fly east along the Clarence River and over South Grafton to forage for food.
100,000 bats fill Grafton skyline at dusk: A serial pest or tourist attraction? More than 100,000 flying foxes have called Susan Island home this summer, resulting in spectacular scenes every night at dusk when they leave their camp and fly east along the Clarence River and over South Grafton to forage for food.