Tracy Tully

Stephanie Bennett - March 24, 2022

Stephanie Bennett - March 24, 2022

Close flooded schools for good, teacher advocate says

The Queensland Government has been accused of throwing “good money after bad” as it works to reopen six schools that are impacted by continual flooding, with teacher advocates saying the worst-affected facilities should be closed and relocated.

Severely flood-damaged schools should be permanently closed according to a Queensland teachers’ association, with accusations the state government was throwing “good money after bad”.

But Education Minister Grace Grace has said millions will be spent to rebuild flood-affected schools to better withstand future extreme weather events.

Teachers’ Professional Association of Queensland secretary Tracy Tully said the sites of some of the schools impacted by the flooding should be shut, with the schools relocated.

Six Queensland schools – Milton State School, Rocklea State School, St Helens State School, One Mile State School, Milpera State School and Aviation High – remain at least partially closed to students and staff since severe storms and flooding hit southeast Queensland in late February and early March.

The closures mean about 2200 students were currently being bussed to alternative schools.

At one stage hundreds of schools across the state were closed due to damage, road closures and power outages.

Ms Tully pointed to Milton State School in Brisbane’s inner-city as one of the schools where a change of location should be considered.

Milton State School inundated by floodwater on February 28, 2022. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Dan Peled

The school was previously severely flood-damaged in the 2011 floods, with new buildings on site designed to withstand rising water.

But older parts of the school were seriously damaged in the recent weather event including several classrooms, the uniform shop, the tuckshop and the after school hours centre, with students still unable to return to school.

“Milton State School was severely impacted by the floods and has been flooded many times,” Ms Tully said.

“The same schools keep getting hit – some schools have been flooded repeatedly since the great flood of 1974.”

Education Minister Grace Grace this week said she was confident the six schools still closed following the flood would be open to students by the beginning of term 2.

During a visit to Milpera State School, Ms Grace also said a $200 million investment was being made to flood mitigate the affected schools, with higher buildings designed to avoid the worst of potential flooding.

Education Minister Grace Grace says flood-damaged schools will be rebuilt to better withstand future weather events. Pic: Adam Head

“We don’t want to build back like with like,” she said.

“We want a longer term plan where we can ensure that we raise these buildings up, have them flood mitigated just like the new building that we built at Milton State School.

“We can’t flood proof them (the schools) but we can certainly flood mitigate the buildings.”

Ms Grace said the initial bill to getting the schools ready for a term 2 opening was $40-50 million, saying a significant number of buildings along with carpet, walls, furnishings and roofs sustained significant damage.

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