MP blasts security fence decision

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson has criticised the NSW Education Department for not installing a security fence around Shellharbour Public School. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson has criticised the NSW Education Department for not installing a security fence around Shellharbour Public School. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

SHELLHARBOUR MP Anna Watson has accused the NSW Education Department of "penny-pinching" over the refusal to install a security fence at Shellharbour Public School.

The school has been hit by a spate of vandalism this year, with its canteen having been broken into on multiple occasions, and Ms Watson believes it's time for the department to step in. The most recent incident was on the weekend of May 17, when the canteen was ransacked.

"What price are we putting on the safety of our school and the safety of our students?" Ms Watson said.

"The school's done everything asked of them by the department, they've carried out a full safety audit and as far as I'm concerned it's now time for the department to get on with the job and do something to help."

Ms Watson defended the fact that a fence had not been installed under the previous Labor government and said the department needed to take into account the population boom in the area in recent years.

"In the last three to four years the population in this area has exploded. There is a lot more people in the area now and the department needs to consider that.

"The previous Labor government had a strong record in areas like installing school fences. What this government has done is rip funding out of the school system, and what we're seeing at the moment is penny-pinching when they should be helping schools instead."

Shellharbour Public School principal John McDonald said it was a frustrating situation for the school.

"We've had three break-ins to the canteen this year, with electronic cash registers being destroyed and a lot of food loss after whoever has broken in has thrown it everywhere, plus the damage where they've actually broken in, and it feels like a constant process of having to fix all that," he said.

He said people from the department had inspected the school and suggested alternatives rather than a fence.

A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Education and Communities said the department was committed to working with the school to minimise incidents such as vandalism.

As a result of a security review in March, risk management strategies were recommended for the school, the spokesperson said.

"The school remains under consideration for future security fencing dependent on the level of risk and the funding available at the time."

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