On August 23, NSW education minister John Della Bosca announced the state Labor government's intention to close Macquarie Boys Technology High School in Parramatta by 2009. The school occupies a large site near Parramatta.
Students enrolling in Years 7 to 9 will need to find another school for 2008, but Years 11 and 12 will be able to continue until the end of their studies.
Marlene Carrasco, a parent campaigning against the school closure who is on the school's parents and citizens committee (P&C), told Green Left Weekly: "Consultations with parents started on May 7 relating to the future of the school. At this initial consultation all three took turns to tell us what a sad situation Macquarie Boys was in. Jack McBride, the principal, prepared us for the burial because the way he spoke you could have been certain you were at a funeral. They said we could nominate to close the school or leave it, enrollments would fall and it would die an undignified death."
The school has 220 students but enrolments are expected to fall to 180 next year.
Carrasco noted that Della Bosca "justified the closure of Macquarie Boys in an interview on 2GB's Ray Hadley show on August 17. He said there was only six Year 7 enrolments for 2008. I rang in and explained that there had been around 28 enrollments for Year 7.
"The P&C members of the school have suggested many possibilities for the school — selective, sport, trade, and the last one was a merger with Arthur Philip — another high school in the area. All were rejected.
"Yet they then told us of new plans where they will establish Lachlan Macquarie College which will focus on maths and science. It will provide extension programs for secondary students in the area, in applied maths and science.
"The state government has suddenly found $3 million to upgrade and fit new science labs for their new pet project, Lachlan Macquarie College. Yet, they could not find any money to refurbish or upgrade Macquarie Boys."
Parents have been bombarded with a list of alternative schools they can send their children to. Yet parents are finding nearby schools full. Carrasco said: "I nominated Homebush Boys. I was met with a very definite no — the principal at Homebush will not accept any boys as they are full."
"We need more public schools and universities in Sydney's Western suburbs, not less," said Rachel Evans, the Socialist Alliance's candidate for the federal seat of Parramatta0. "How many teaching facilities have to be closed? Other public schools around the area are full. Macquarie Boys High should be properly funded and the bean-counters in the state government should be reminded that free, accessible education is a right not a privilege. The Socialist Alliance will be helping the campaign to save Macquarie Boys High."
To get involved in the campaign, visit <http://www.myspace.com/savemacquarieboys>.