Parents at Lilyfield's Orange Grove Public School - dubbed the "bush school in the heart of the city" - are concerned early stage plans for upgrades will see open green space diminished and are pushing the government to reopen feedback so they can make their concerns known.
"This ill-conceived plan would annihilate the school's precious green space, vital to young children living in an era of nature deficit disorder," said Stephanie Oley, a parent who founded the Better Plans for Orange Grove action group.
"We need to keep our tree canopy and green area to reduce the urban heat island effect at the school as the summers get hotter. The school has a large amount of sealed area, which must not be increased further."
The Orange Grove community has been pushing for upgrades for more than a decade in response to a growing student cohort - the student population has doubled to 535 in that time. While they welcome an announcement of $6.3 million in funding - the only funds promised in this year's NSW Budget to an inner west LGA school - they say the proposed plan for the 1.76 hectare campus has a number of "critical flaws".
Revealed by the NSW government's School Infrastructure department in June, the plan shows two new large buildings proposed for construction on the Emmerick Street end of the school on what is currently a large grassed play area. "The plan would also leave intact a poor-quality 1940s structure known as Block D, along with a flood-prone preschool building, and an unallocated outdoor area fronting busy Balmain Road," Ms Oley said.
A masterplan put together by the school community in 2012 showed there was scope for expansion without eating into the open play area, by relocating the preschool and constructing two large buildings along the Balmain Road end of the campus.
The action group is calling on Schools Infrastructure NSW to reopen feedback on the plan after complaints that an earlier survey was not made public until 48 hours before it closed at the end of June.
"Our school needs a planning response that works with the school's natural assets," said Ms Oley.
The upgrades are part of $7.9 billion in state funding for new and upgraded schools over the next four years. School Infrastructure NSW says the Orange Grove plan, which includes a new hall, a covered outdoor learning area and a large administration block, "takes into consideration a number of factors including demographic trends, educational requirements, enrolments, transport links, site analysis and due diligence studies, and partnership opportunities".
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