THE sale of TAFE NSW's Scone campus could be an "absolute tragedy", says the NSW Teachers Federation.
Expressions of interest in the 17.9 hectare Flemington Drive site closed on Tuesday. Colliers International listing agent Andrew Graham declined to comment on the level and sources of interest.
Upper Hunter Shire Council had resolved on Monday to call on the state government to "immediately cease" the sale.
"The council calls on Minister Geoff Lee for a full and comprehensive consultation with the community about the impact the sale of the TAFE will have on the future of jobs and skills in the Hunter," the council moved.
"Council request the findings of this transparent community consultation will be reported back to council and the community."
Federation's Phil Chadwick said there had been "little or no consultation through this whole process".
"No consultation with the teacher's federation as yet and no consultation with the local community," he said.
A state government spokesman said TAFE NSW had undertaken "extensive consultation" and "many views are considered when TAFE NSW make operational decisions".
A spokeswoman for TAFE NSW said it had "undertaken consultation with key stakeholders, including staff, industry and other government agencies, as part of the rigorous assessment to ensure the sale is appropriate".
She said parts of the site were "significantly underutilised".
"Many of the facilities are now sitting idle, with significant maintenance costs," she said. "By allowing others to acquire this surplus site, TAFE NSW can reinvest any proceeds into new, modern training facilities and services across the region."
Mr Chadwick said six teachers protested outside Mr Johnsen's Muswellbrook office on Tuesday, "angry and disappointed regarding the sale and lack of support" and asking him to "stand up for TAFE".
"Michael Johnsen is the local representative of the community and we simply don't think he's been fully transparent with the community about what is going on," Mr Chadwick said.
"Michael Johnsen is simply following party lines and following the NSW state government's agenda to privatise TAFE."
Mr Johnsen said in a statement "all decisions regarding the TAFE NSW site at the Scone racetrack will be made taking into account the views of all our local community".
The site is being sold subject to a lease back to TAFE NSW for one year, plus two one-year options.
"There is no ongoing security and there are no guarantees what's going to happen should the TAFE college be sold to a private RTO [registered training organisation] or should the college go to a developer - there's no guarantees past the next election cycle," Mr Chadwick said.
"If TAFE are directed by the state government not to take up that [one year] option, that's the end of the delivery by TAFE at that site and that would be an absolute tragedy."
The spokeswoman said TAFE NSW will negotiate leaseback arrangements "at the appropriate time".
"Alongside the leaseback, TAFE NSW has several training options under consideration," she said.
"These include transferring practical training to a local employment or workplace setting, where industry requirements or standards permit. TAFE NSW remains committed to the Scone community, and we will continue to work with local employers and industry to consider how we will deliver training now, and in the long term."
She said practical training for farriery "will be supported through the negotiated leaseback arrangements".
TAFE NSW opened a Connected Learning Centre in Scone's main Street in July 2019.
Mr Chadwick said the pandemic had showed students learned more and faster face to face.
"The CLCs are great when they're constructed on the same site as the existing TAFE college, because what they can be used to do is supplement and complement the practical hands-on training provided by the TAFE college with the theory subjects," he said.
"But as they say, you can't teach someone how to shoe a horse from a laptop."