Families in Parkville Gardens call for review into school zoning

Families in Parkville Gardens call for review into school zoning
Sean Car

Residents living in Parkville Gardens are asking the state government to consider updating school zoning for their neighbourhood, with local students currently forced to contend with dangerous traffic conditions to access schools west of the Citylink freeway.

Students living in Parkville Gardens are currently zoned to attend both primary and secondary schools on the other side of the busy freeway and other surrounding major roads, meaning parents are forced to drive their children to school.

A school zone defines which school would be the local government school for students living within that area. For children living in metropolitan areas, their local school is usually the nearest government school in a straight line from the child’s residential address, however “a straight line” couldn’t be further from reality for students living in Parkville Gardens.

Melbourne MP and Deputy Leader of the Victorian Greens Ellen Sandell, who has been campaigning on the issue for the past few years, said she’d written to the new Victorian Minister for Education Natalie Hutchins asking her to consider a zoning change.

“I’ve asked that she consider zone changes to help keep Parkville Gardens families safe and make it easier for families to walk and ride to school. Kids shouldn’t have to cross 10 lanes of traffic just to get to school in the morning,” Ms Sandell said.

Local resident and mother of two Monika Saunders told North West City News that her oldest child, who had recently started primary school, was currently enrolled at Moonee Ponds Primary School – some three-and-a-half kilometres from their suburb.

But while she said they would have preferred to attend a closer school, ideally Brunswick South West Primary School, the issues for many local families mainly related to secondary school options.

Parkville Gardens students are currently zoned to attend Mount Alexander Secondary College, despite being forced to compete with Citylink and other major roads which separates the former Commonwealth Games Village from the school.

Ms Saunders said families didn’t feel comfortable allowing their children to walk or ride their bikes to school and would prefer to enrol at schools in neighbouring Brunswick, Brunswick West, and University High in Parkville.

“The schools [that we’re zoned to attend] are on other side of the freeway – you can’t walk around the neighbourhood and encourage bike riding when you have a large freeway in between, so it’s hard to let them go to school on their own and be independent,” she said.

“Maybe it’s time [for the government] to reconsider whether significant features such as a freeway are considered when zoning for schools to give better results for families. It’s at odds with what the city wants to achieve in promoting more walking and bike riding, where working and living is close, and you don’t need a car as much.”

A Department of Education spokesperson wouldn’t confirm whether the government would commit to a review but said assessment of the school zone for those living in Parkville Gardens did consider major roads and transport access. •

“Every student has the right to attend their local Victorian government school and students can also enrol at a school outside their zone if capacity allows it,” a Department of Education spokesperson said.

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
Like us on Facebook