Halcyon Lakes – The Suburb
Master planning for Halcyon Lakes originally indicated it would be home for 50,000 people (intended to attract younger families) however due to late changes in development approvals by the Brisbane City Council, high density living facilities were built enabling the suburb population to settle in 2014 at around 58,000 people.

Halcyon Lakes is now well established with no further development occurring within the suburb itself. However, there is significant development occurring on the outer fringes of the suburb, with an anticipated 1500 additional homes being built by December 2021 and this growth is anticipated to continue for the next decade.

There is a Queensland rail network that runs adjacent to, but not through, the Halcyon Lakes suburb.

There is a Brisbane City Council bus network that connects travelers from the rail network to the Halcyon Lakes suburb. There is a total of 17 bus stops within the suburb that includes a turnaround at the Halcyon Lakes Village shopping centre.

The Halcyon Lakes Village Shopping Centre is home to the following businesses:

  • Woolworths
  • Coles
  • Aldi
  • 1 x Fruit and Vegetable
  • Target Home and Fashion store (rumored to be closing)
  • 2 x Hairdressers
  • 3 x Telecommunications
  • 1 x Optometrist
  • 2 x Jewelers
  • 5 x Banks
  • 6 x Real Estate Agencies
  • 1 x Police Beat Office
  • 2 x Service Stations
  • 7 x Fashion Stores
  • 1 x Beauty Therapist
  • 1 x Auto Repair and Servicing
  • 7 x Restaurants
  • 9 x Fast Food Outlets
  • 3 x Medical Practices
  • 3 x Dental Practices
  • 4 x Childcare Facilities
  • 3 x Chemists
  • 12 x Professional Suites
Other than home based businesses, there is no other business district within the suburb of Halcyon Lakes.

There is a major Westfield Shopping Centre located 17 kms to the East of Halcyon Lakes, which after a major redevelopment in 2014, became Australia’s third largest shopping centre.

There is a mid-sized shopping centre south of Halcyon Lakes that recently received approval to expand to a total of 95 stores.

Within the suburb of Halcyon Lakes four schools on five separate campuses have been established.

Outside the suburb of Halcyon Lakes, there are three independent schools that fall within the Halcyon Lakes College catchment area.

Demographic Information
When founded, the young suburb of Halcyon Lakes was attracting young families, taking on their first mortgage. Professional mums and dads were traveling in and out of the suburb to work, utilising the childcare services available to them in the suburb. Two decades later, the suburb has evolved significantly.

Halcyon Lakes was originally an 81% owner occupied housing suburb; this has now changed to 64% owner occupation. The rental market has increased significantly, attracting a slightly lower social demographic.

Multi-culturalism has increased significantly with more students enrolling in all Halcyon Lakes Schools reportedly coming from families where English is not the first language. Sub-cultures are beginning to emerge in and around Halcyon Lakes that identify as either:

  • Pacific Islander,
  • South East Asian,
  • African

The majority of employment for Halcyon Lakes residents continues to be attained outside the suburb. The four schools on five physical campuses are the major employers of people employed within the suburb of Halcyon Lakes.

Aside from the retail business opportunities and some limited professional work (accountants, lawyers, doctors, teachers etc.), most leave Halcyon Lakes to work in rapidly growing industrial and logistics estates immediately surrounding the suburb or further out towards Brisbane CBD to work in professional services.

Large distribution centres for Toll, IPEC, Coca-Cola Amitil, Woolworths, Coles, John Deere, Bridgestone, and Schweppes are located within seven kms of Halcyon Lakes and have access to a large north-south motorway. Collectively these facilities employ 2350 people of which, 65% is unskilled labour.

Politically, Halcyon Lakes is positioned in the middle of Labour heartland. Local, State and Federal governments have held their respective seats in which Halcyon Lakes sits since the 1960’s. All three elected members are regularly seen in the school communities, mostly attending ceremonial events.

Halcyon Lakes College – The Journey So Far
Halcyon Lakes College (HLC) is a Kindergarten to Year 12 (K-12) co-educational school based in the south of Brisbane. It has two separate campuses for both junior and senior students. The Senior Campus is located only 500 metres from the Halcyon Lakes Village Shopping Centre. The Primary Campus is located 1.5 kilometers away from the Senior Campus. Year 7 has always been located at its senior campus.

HLC was founded in 1994 on Christian values and is a member school of a prominent Christian Church Association in Australia called The Christian Collective. Its flagship program or key point of difference has always been Performing Arts and has focused heavily on attracting students to the school with high achieving staff and extraordinary performances for the local community. In more recent years the school has focused on improving its overall sporting profile to make it a more ‘rounded’ school that attracts students from a broader sector of the community.

HLC’s founding Principal Dr. Harrold McDonald was considered a visionary in the early days of the school, with exciting plans for the future. He is credited with having established a successful P-12 independent school for the church during the 15 years leading up to the establishment of HLC. During the early years of HLC, Dr. McDonald made many bold statements to the school community about future infrastructure development, which excited many parents and set high expectations in them for which they would eventually become disappointed.

In 2003 Dr. McDonald recruited Mr. Jackie Chan as Head of the HLC International School. This was seen as a strategic masterstroke for HLC as it not only strengthened the school’s international relations with Asia, it also contributes positively to the school’s bottom line. The International School was growing nicely until the foreign exchange rates took a dive in 2012, driving HLC International school fees up and placing significant pressure on overseas enrolments. At the same time, it was felt across the community that Dr. McDonald was prioritising International Student enrolments ahead of the Domestic students’ needs.

In the same year, HLC started its Kindergarten program that was intended to be its second strategic masterstroke because it would become the pipeline that would feed Prep students to the Primary school. It got off to a positive start thanks to the childcare funding assistance government provides to parents. The strategy however did not translate to a significant increase in Prep enrolments in 2013, nor did it in subsequent years. The kindergarten as a standalone business entity returns a small profit to HLC so it was decided by the board, to continue the program indefinitely.

During an angry Parents and Friends (P&F) Association meeting in May 2012, parents were asking where the money from their annual building funds payments and ever-increasing school fees were being used if not on infrastructure. For over a decade parents and teachers were promised an Olympic size swimming pool and a Performing Arts Auditorium with adjoining classrooms. Dr. McDonald’s presentations at speech nights were compelling and these promises were frequently referenced in school community dialogue for many years. In 2010 Dr. McDonald promised the auditorium would be ready for occupation in 2012, and when that failed to occur, he began to distance himself from the community. At that P&F meeting, parents unanimously voted ‘no confidence’ in the principal and the board and requested the P&F Executive call upon the church to intervene and stand down both for failing to deliver on promises. The P&F did not follow through on this request.

Rumors began to circulate about the financial viability of HLC and by August 2012, the church’s hand was forced to formally intervene. Dr. McDonald was stood down and the Board of Directors held to account before being dismissed. The school community was outraged when the church sent a letter to parents indicating that Dr. McDonald was heading off to enjoy a well-earned sabbatical. This failure to be open and transparent resulted in parents of many domestic students withdrawing their children from the school and moving them to other independent schools outside the suburb, most notably Hamilton Girls Grammar School and Windsor Christian College.

HLC was now in financial crisis. After a long complex review by church administrators it was determined the school was carrying an accumulated debt in excess of $15 million caused by a top-heavy management structure, poor budgetary control including excessive spending on non-critical resources, poor governance including no accountability of the principal by the Board. Whilst the church secured the school by covering the debt, it intended to recover every cent in the shortest possible time.

An interim principal was appointed by the church and he took office in September 2012 whilst they endeavored to recruit a new full-time leader. It was soon realised that a new principal could not be recruited in the available time leading up to the start of the 2013 school year. As such, the interim principal would remain in office for at least another six months. It was to be 12 months before a suitable principal was found and a hand over completed in readiness for the start of the 2014 school year.

During this time the church also recruited a new Board of Directors and the full board was established and governing by May 2013. It had a heavy bias of strong financial skills and conservative personalities, which made them difficult to deal with from time to time. The directors began the difficult process of removing unnecessary layers of management and trimming back resources to reduce the cost structures within the school. The board was also tasked to take over the recruitment of the new Principal.

In 2014 Mrs. Lucille Ball ticked all the boxes and commenced as the new HLC principal. She had demonstrable skills in curriculum leadership and she came highly recommended by referees from within her previous school board as well as from within the church community. In short, the board had a high level of confidence in her to rebuild this school community and increase market share. Mrs. Ball quickly endeared herself to students, parents and teachers by being present at all community events, listening aggressively and demonstrating genuine empathy. There was a new positive mood building at the 2014 speech night where Mrs. Ball was given a standing ovation for her stirring speech on rebuilding Halcyon Lakes College.  She made promises that could only be filled with a significant turnaround in enrolments. Board Chair Mr. Stephen Scott spoke to Mrs. Ball immediately after the speech advising her that he was excited to see the proposed strategy that would enable the school to realise the dreams she had just conveyed to the school community.

The board was now doing settled in its job of running the school on a shoestring budget whilst balancing the need to maintain a high standard of teaching and servicing its debt. Mrs. Ball was continually out and about and loyalty to her was building from all sectors of the school community. However, after three years at the helm, school enrolments were failing to improve. With 2018 international student enrolment projections looking very positive, it was clear Mr. Jackie Chan was working hard to recover our international market share. However domestically, the news was anything but positive. The board was beginning to vocalise its concerns to Mrs. Ball about enrolments and the commercial performance of the school. The Board of Directors continually reminded Mrs. Ball that the school could add 110 new enrolments without adding any additional costs through staffing.

In August 2017, Simon Covey, a HLC board director learned through community feedback that a bullying issue was getting out of control at the Primary Campus. When the matter was raised by the board, Mrs. Ball indicated that it was now under control. However, by November 2017, 17 students were withdrawn from Year 4 by angry parents who believed the Head of Primary failed to deal with the issue and protect their children from the bully (another Year 4 student). By the start of the 2018 year, a further 11 students failed to enroll in Year 5, leaving a large void in that cohort that would most likely be carried through until they left school in Year 12. Furthermore, forecasted enrolments in every cohort in Primary were down significantly for 2018. Mrs. Ball was routinely taken to task on this matter by the board and was not demonstrating an ability to hold the Head of Primary to account for her performance. Just as the board directed Mrs. Ball to performance manage the Head of Primary, a complaint was lodged by parents accusing the Head of Primary of bullying them. Mrs. Ball refused to performance manage the Head of Primary and as a result, the Head of Primary was dismissed by the board in March 2018. It was later revealed that Mrs. Ball had become a close personal friend of the Head of Primary and was known to frequently socialise with her. The board then directed Mrs. Ball to begin recruiting a new Head of Primary.

The board was still faced with the growing dilemma of the principal’s inability to influence whole school enrolment performance. The community clearly loved her interpersonal style, but she was failing to maintain enrolments. HLC had was a good school with sound academic performance turning out incredible young men and women with extraordinary character and talent, particularly in the performing arts. During a strategy day in June 2018 where Mrs. Ball had invited members from all sectors of the community, it was clear to the board that she had built an extraordinary loyalty with her community founded on close friendships. Later that year the Chair of the Board gave Mrs. Ball her performance review highlighting the board’s concern regarding her inability to grow whole school enrolments and performance manage senior executives. Mrs. Ball was clearly offended by any suggestion that the loss of 100 enrolments during her time as principal was a reflection on her leadership and from that moment the relationship between the board and principal deteriorated.

The board began to hear rumors that the Mrs. Ball was speaking poorly of the directors to parents and staff, suggesting ‘They are leading this school into a financial and educational black hole!’ She was becoming increasingly confrontational when challenged by directors on aspects of her board report during meetings. Despite having a performance review that related directly to whole school enrolments, Mrs. Ball presented no strategy in 2019 for correcting this situation, rather blaming “the stigma of the school caused by her predecessor” for the continuing decline in enrolments. By June 2019 it was clear to the Board of Directors that Mrs. Ball was not the solution to HLC’s continuing decline in student enrolments.

The board met with Mrs. Ball in September 2019 to advise her that her employment contract which was due for renewal in December 2020 would not be renewed. The Board believed this allowed her a dignified exit from school and sufficient time for the board to find a replacement principal. Mrs. Ball reacted badly to the news and despite the confidentiality agreement in place between her and the board, she shared the news with elements of the community including two members of her management team and a group of parents. News then broke across the community of her pending departure which then placed the Board Chair in the difficult position of again performance managing her. Mrs. Ball subsequently resigned in the third week of June 2020. The community backlash has since been severe. Angry letters from parents and anonymous teachers are being received by the board suggesting the Board of Directors could not be trusted and that they had made the biggest mistake in the school’s history. It is understood that the week following her departure, Mrs. Ball sent personalised cards to every teacher thanking them for their contribution and the same to many parents within the community.

Now faced with a community in distress at the loss of a loved and admired Principal, the Board must find a new leader to;

  • rebuild the school,
  • restore its commercial performance, and
  • make it fiercely competitive.
State Schools within Halcyon Lakes
Halcyon Lakes State Primary School (HLSPS) was founded in the same year (1994) as Halcyon Lakes College. It had significant infrastructure established by Queensland State Government when it first opened however it had limitations for physical growth due to the small land size upon which it was located. The Queensland State Government had already flagged an alternate site for a second primary school within the suburb – the exact date for construction and opening was not known at the time.

Lakeview State Primary School (LPSPS) was built on a greenfield site within the Halcyon Lakes suburb in 2001 but at quite a distance from the four other campuses. It is now one of Queensland’s largest primary school campuses and still has significant room for physical growth if required.

Halcyon Lakes State Primary School (HLSPS) was founded in the same year (1994) as Halcyon Lakes College. It had significant infrastructure established by Queensland State Government when it first opened however it had limitations for physical growth due to the small land size upon which it was located. The Queensland State Government had already flagged an alternate site for a second primary school within the suburb – the exact date for construction and opening was not known at the time.

Lakeview State Primary School (LPSPS) was built on a greenfield site within the Halcyon Lakes suburb in 2001 but at quite a distance from the four other campuses. It is now one of Queensland’s largest primary school campuses and still has significant room for physical growth if required.

Independent Schools Outside of Halcyon Lakes
Outside the suburb of Halcyon Lakes, there are 3 major independent schools that students, who live in Halcyon Lakes, go to for their education.

Hamilton Girls Grammar School (HGGS)

  • Founded in 1887 by Queensland State Government
  • 23 kms West of Halcyon Lakes
  • All Girls Kindergarten to Year 12
  • 769 enrolled students (174 Boarding & 63 International students)
  • They have enrolled 21 students from Halcyon Lakes College over the past 5 years
  • Strong academic and sporting program
  • Aggressive marketers (Motorway billboards, radio advertising, signage along Halcyon Lakes Esplanade)

 

Windsor Christian School (WCS)

  • Founded in 1986 by a local Church group
  • 14 kms North East of Halcyon Lakes (Closer to Brisbane)
  • Co-educational Year 7 to Year 12
  • 663 enrolled students
  • They have enrolled 14 students from Halcyon Lakes College over the past 5 years
  • Strong Christian focus with average academic record
  • Passive marketers (Only a bus seen travelling in and out of Halcyon Lakes)

 

Liberty College (LC)

  • Founded in 2014 by private investors
  • 8kms South of Halcyon Lakes (Closer to Brisbane)
  • Co-educational K to 8 (Planning to reach Year 12 in five years)
  • 428 enrolled students
  • They have enrolled 29 students from HLC over the past 5 years
  • Christian agues and a strong focus on Performing Arts
  • Aggressive marketers frequently seen inside Halcyon Lakes Shopping Centre

 

Halcyon Lakes College Leadership
Board of Directors
In August 2013, the church appointed Mr. Stephen Scott as Chair of HLC Ltd a newly formed company structure to undertake full administration and financial recovery of Halcyon Lakes College.

Mr. Scott then assembled a Board of Directors and is currently populated as follows:

  • Stephen Scott – Chair HLC Ltd. (Leadership Consultant)
  • Mark Newham – Deputy Chair HLC Ltd. (Educational Peak Body Executive)
  • Laura Francis – Director and Chair Finance and Risk Subcommittee (Practicing Accountant)
  • Kyle Chen – Director and Chair Education Subcommittee (Retired School Principal)
  • Brian Cooper – Director (Practicing Lawyer)
  • Karen Wiseman – Director (Manager of Business School within QMU University)
  • Simon Covey – Director (Practicing Accountant)

All directors of HLC Ltd. are non-executive members of the Company Board and are legally responsible for the financial and non-financial performance of the company, including compliance to legislation and regulations under which the school is responsible for operating.

Director Tenure
Director tenure is staggered annually with contracts renewed every three years. Current tenure of the board is as follows:

  • Stephen Scott –7 years on the Board / 2 years remaining on contract
  • Mark Newham – 5 years on the Board / 1 year remaining on contract
  • Laura Francis – 3 years on the Board / 3-year contract recently renewed
  • Kyle Chen – 5 years on the Board / 1 year remaining on contract
  • Brian Cooper – 7 years on the Board / Not intending to renew contract after 2 years
  • Karen Wiseman – 3 Years on the Board / Intentions unknown
  • Simon Covey – 5.5 Years on the Board / Contract not renewed – leaving at the end of the year
Executive Leadership Team
The Executive Leadership at the College includes the following appointments:

  • Principal and CEO – Vacant
  • Dean of Studies & Deputy Principal – You
  • Dean of Students – Ms. Julie Kemp
  • Head of Primary – Mr. David Tuckett
  • Chaplain – Reverend Joel Simmonds
  • Business Manager – Mr. Jeremy Jones

Upon termination of Mrs. Ball’s employment, the following changes were made:

  • You, in your role as Dean of Students and Deputy Principal, were appointed as Acting Principal of Halcyon Lakes College in November 2019.
  • In light of your continued responsibilities as Dean of Studies, leading the teaching and learning at the school, all responsibilities for budgetary control have been removed from the Acting Principal. Mr. Jeremy Jones will liaise directly with Ms. Laura Francis on Financial matters until a permanent appointment has been made to the principal position.
College Management Team
Mrs. Ball had also created a Senior Leadership Team forum to engage senior staff on strategic agendas and operational matters affecting broader school behaviours and practices. This forum included the Executive Leadership Team and the following senior staff:

  • Jackie Chan – Head of International School
  • Anne Delaney – Head of Early Learning Centre (Kindergarten)
  • Paul Dunham – Head of Performing Arts
  • Naomi Fortescue – Head of STEM
  • Michael Singh – Head of Humanities
  • Brad Hellicot – Head of Sport
  • Tim Dawson – Head of IT
  • Dave Simpson – Head of Grounds & Maintenance
  • Barry Miller – Head of Wentworth House
  • Susan Carter – Head of Cook House
  • Jamie Fletcher – Head of Flinders House
  • Josie Gill – Head of Burke House

Please refer to the updated Organisation Chart on the College Leadership Page.

 

Personal Assistant to the Principal, Ms. Sam Holzberger remains in her position, providing support to both you as Acting Principal and Mr. Simon Covey and Ms. Laura Francis as they assume a shared operational role within the College to assist both Mr. Jeremy Jones with financial control and you with monitoring college performance and reporting to the Board.

You will continue to work from your Dean of Studies office while the board directors will work from the principal’s office. Your office is located less than 25 meters away from the principal’s office where Sam’s desk is located mid-way between the two.

It is intended that the principal position will remain vacant for the remainder of this year, or until a suitable candidate is appointed. You have been advised by the board that you will remain in the Acting Principal role until such time as a principal is appointed.

For the duration of your Acting Principal role, you will be meeting fortnightly with Chair of the Board, Mr. Stephen Scott to:

  • Keep him informed of any College ‘Red Flags’ that you may need to advise him of before they are formally notified to the Board, and
  • Allow him to monitor your performance in the role of Acting Principal and provide any necessary support to you. (He is aware of your aspirations for future principalship and has encouraged you to apply for the role of Principal when it is advertised. He makes no guarantees of your success through applying however does guarantee there is much to be learned from applying.)
Financial Performance
In June of every year, the Board of Directors invite the College Executive to present their capability assessments and budget requests for the coming year. This typically includes a presentation from each executive to educate the board on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in each area of the school. From this exercise, strategic priorities are identified, and the budget estimates are established.

By September of each year, the budget is signed off by the board and delegated to the Principal for execution.

The past financial performance of the college continues to place significant pressure on the budget each year. Tensions rise as negotiations ensue between the Executive and the Board, as executives push harder for greater expenditure to enhance curriculum and extracurricular programs.

Whilst the Board of Directors is sympathetic to the Executive’s aspirations, they remain committed to their governance policies to reduce debt per student to $8,000 and accumulated debt to below $5,000,000 whilst maintaining a minimum cash position of $1,000,000 in the bank, 12 months of the year.

Based upon student enrolment numbers across the school, the Board and Executive determined it can introduce 110 new enrolments into various areas of the school without increasing the cost structures to support those enrolments. This indicated that Halcyon Lakes College is operating at a much higher than desired cost structure. The only way to improve this, is to improve enrolments as we cannot remove any of the existing costs in staffing without significantly diminishing student learning and welfare.

Statement of Comprehensive Income
Statement of Financial Position

Statement of Cash Flows

Student Enrolments
Staffing 2020
Historical Timeline of Schools’ Student Enrolment Census Data (Annual)
Contact:

PO Box 555
Halcyon Lakes QLD 4999

Phone: (07) 3848 0519
Email: reception@hlc.qld.edu

CRICOS NO.: 00364E

ABN: 44 005 746 552

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