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Fees leave parents fighting to change school catchment areas

PUSH FOR CHANGE: Cr James Hanson with Howard parents Sheryl Dent and Ricky Rowland who want to be part of the Maryborough secondary education district.
PUSH FOR CHANGE: Cr James Hanson with Howard parents Sheryl Dent and Ricky Rowland who want to be part of the Maryborough secondary education district. Eliza Wheeler

FOR parents like Sheryl Dent, who live in the Fraser Coast townships of Howard and Pacific Haven, they fork out thousands of dollars a year to send their kids to Maryborough high schools.

This is because the families are placed in the Isis district secondary education catchment area, and are not eligible for government subsidies to pay for public transport costs to send their children to school out of their catchment.

For Ms Dent, this means paying more than $50 a week to send her three kids to Aldridge State High School.

Parents from these townships are pushing to be included in the Maryborough secondary education catchment, so they would have their children's bus fees subsidised.

The parents would be eligible for the government's subsidy if they chose to send their children to Isis District State High School in the Bundaberg region; about 35km north of the townships.

The Queensland Department of Education told the Chronicle the catchments were reviewed annually and were generally based on the shortest, most viable route to school.

Although it is only a few more kilometres away than the high schools in Maryborough, the parents argue it is not fair that either they pay the travel expenses, or send their kids to another region for school.

"We pay our taxes here, we live and shop here, we want our kids to be part of this community, not Childers or Bundaberg," Ms Dent said.

"My kids miss out on weekend activities, or we have to save up, because I've got to pay to send them to school here. It [the cost] really takes a toll."

Fraser Coast councillor James Hansen said he would help the group of families lobby to change the education borders, to include Howard, Pacific Haven and Torbanlea in the Maryborough catchment.

Howard father Ricky Rowland said parents in the area had been fighting to be part of the Maryborough catchment for years, and with the area growing, more parents were pushing for the change.

"It doesn't matter who is in power, One Nation, Liberals, Labor, nothing has changed," Mr Rowland said.

"We just need someone to listen to us."

Topics:  fccommunity fceducation fcpolitics



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