OUT CLASSED: Failure that may leave Gympie lacking schools
OUR booming population is putting pressure on schools and teachers, with experts fearing we will soon have more children than schools can cope with.
This means parents may not be able to find a place for their youngsters and local schools could end up with overcrowded and under-resourced classrooms.
Thousands of new students will call the Wide Bay home in a decade, but Gympie's projected growth bucks the trend.
More than 300 school-age children are expected to leave the region.
By 2031, there will be about 9489 students trying to squeeze into the 31 schools that service the local government area.
During that same period, 993 students will settle in Bundaberg while another 66 will move to the Fraser Coast.
Kevin Bates, president of the Queensland Teachers' Union, said the State Government would not meet population growth needs.
He said the government was relying on an "unsustainable" approach of adding temporary multistorey buildings to already overburdened campuses.
"Instead of well-planned and up-to-date school facilities, what we'll end up with is a piecemeal approach," Mr Bates said.
"Many of our schools were built in the 1950s-60s and have had very little work done to them in the interim."
Demographer Bernard Salt said there was a risk of teachers working in "congested, substandard buildings" unless the State Government changed its approach to building schools.
Based on feedback from schools in the region, Wide Bay QTU organiser Scott Welch said the age and maintenance costs of older buildings was a significant problem for the region's schools.
Because there had been little population growth in recent years, he said most schools had the capacity for increased enrolment.
The Department of Education said it was actively monitoring schools that had rising enrolments and had plans to open a further five schools across Queensland in 2021.
Education Minister Grace Grace said eight new schools were opened across the state this year.
"More and more children are choosing to attend state schools, we have seen a 10 per cent increase in our student numbers in the past five years," she said.
"We will not just sit back and let our schools become overcrowded."
Opposition education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said an LNP government would "end the divide" between the regions and cities with a school planning commission to build new schools where they were needed.
BY THE NUMBERS
Region (LGA), number of students now, students in 2031, number of schools
Mackay, 23,938, 26,680, 58
Toowoomba, 34,744, 35,594, 89
Sunshine Coast, 61,365, 77,694, 73
Fraser Coast, 18,713, 18,779, 38
Bundaberg, 17,722, 18,715, 51
Gladstone, 13,924, 13,955, 33
Rockhampton, 17,043, 18,380, 45
Ipswich, 47,641, 86,464, 71
Gympie, 9833, 9489, 31
Townsville, 39,322, 47,702, 60
Southern Downs (Warwick), 6913, 6348, 36
Maranoa, 2558, 2537, 16
Western Downs, 7611, 7610, 34
Balonne, 895, 720, 7
Cairns, 33,540, 40,058, 52
Whitsunday, 6073, 7105, 18
Livingstone (Yeppoon), 7451, 7979, 17
Central Highlands (Emerald), 6328, 5819, 28
Banana (Biloela), 2945, 2354, 16
North Burnett, 1907, 1724, 17
South Burnett, 6319, 5985, 27
Noosa, 9856, 9983, 17
Lockyer Valley, 8348, 9573, 26
Isaac (Clermont, Moranbah), 4321, 4711, 19
Somerset, 5352, 6496, 19