Newcastle Grammar closes amid Supercars transport confusion

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Newcastle Grammar closes amid Supercars transport confusion Wharf Road grandstands
Nanjing Night Net

Estabar in Shortland Esplanade

Shortland Esplanade

TweetFacebookNewcastle Heraldon Monday afternoon that school buses would run as usual that day.

The school closure highlights a breakdown in communication over transport plans for the race, which is 25 daysaway.

The Herald reported last week that Transport for NSW, Supercars and Keolis Downer hadnot publicly released a transport strategy for the race weekend, despite the challenge of moving anestimated 150,000 racegoers in and out of the CBD.

It is understood this plan will be released in the next week, but that will come too late for Newcastle Grammar.

“The biggest problem for us is that we have been told that school buses can’t get in and can’t get out on that day,” Mrs Thomas said.

“Darby Street’s closing on that Friday. A section of Darby Street, I believe, will be closed, and we have been told that on that day all the buses will terminate at Civic Park.”

Supercars said this was not correct and all traffic would be allowed as far east as Bolton Street.

The school’s website also says buses will terminate at Civic Park, staff may struggle to find parking spots on the street, and noise from the track will be “significant”.

“We have expressed our concerns to the Supercar organisers, council and our local member,” it says.

Mrs Thomas said she had been working “positively” with Supercarsand that the race would bring benefits to Newcastle.

But it had been “difficult” to make decisions about her school without access to information about student transport.

“That’s probably my problem, that we’re not 100 per cent sure,” Mrs Thomas said.“That is where it’s been tough for us, and I had to make a call.

“You don’t make this decision lightly. We have spent months doing research, trying to work out the best approach, and in the end I felt there was no other option other than to close the Hill campus.

“You can’t just make these sorts of decisions a week out or even two weeks out, because familieshave got to get time to prepare.”

The school’s Hill campus caters for 580 children from years 5to 12. Students from years 5 to 8 will have teacher supervision at Grammar’s Park campus at Cooks Hill on November 24 if required.

Newcastle East Public School, which is two blocks west, will stay open, although comparatively few of its students catch buses.

Mrs Thomas said some of her staff would be at the Hill campus during the race to judge if the school could open in future years.

“We’re well aware that this could go for five years;it could go for longer. My idea is not thatthe kids have a holiday every 24thof November,” she said.

“We’re less than about 200 metres from one of the points on the track, and it’s a practice day. We don’t know what the impactof noise will be and how possible it will be to run lessons.

“I’m not saying it’s an obvious issue, although obviously we’re concerned about that given our proximity to the track.”

Schools a similar distance to Supercars tracks at Adelaide, Melbourneand Winton remain open on race days, and race organisers use school ovals at Adelaide’s Christian Brothers College and Townsville State High for concerts and parking.