THE Wonthaggi community is advocating for the State Government to chip in $60,000 to save an iconic pool.
The Wonthaggi Primary School is trying to fundraise between $40,000 and $60,000 to bring their pool back up to scratch – following vandalism and aging equipment.
The liner is about 15 years old and reaching the end of its life. That end came sooner than expected when vandals threw a safety pole into the pool, damaging the liner.
For a public school to raise up to $60,000 is a challenge. The teachers and students want it repaired – with money from all the fundraisers this year going towards the rehabilitation of the pool. But it won’t be enough.
Bass MP Brian Paynter visited the school last week and is advocating for the State Government to pay for the repairs.
But Nathan Leversha, the school’s maintenance and groundskeeper, said the Department of Education doesn’t see the pool as a “core” building.
So they’re not going to pay to fix it.
“When it was built in the early 1900s, it cost about £850,” Nathan said. “So in today’s terms, it would’ve been about $1 million.”
He says a quick fix won’t do it, as the school will have to keep splurging money every few years.
“But if we fix it properly, it’ll last another 60 years.”
School council president Michelle Mabilia, also a former student at the school, says kids are always full of adrenaline when it’s their time to go in the pool.
“During term one, each kid does about three to four lessons a week, plus time during their sports’ classes,” she said.
At lunchtime, kids also get the chance to have some free time in the pool.
The solar-heated pool is sometimes warmer than outside, says school captain Zac – also Michelle’s son.
Zac says the swimming lessons at school have taught him how to rescue people, what to do if he falls out of a boat, and advice on rips and currents.
Students could attend the local YMCA pool, but with bus and pool entry costs, it’s more unnecessary money stripped from parents’ pockets.
It’s likely each student would only complete 10 lessons a term at the YMCA. At school, each student usually has at least 40 sessions in the pool during term one.
There’s no doubt the YMCA pool is fantastic – but having one at the primary school takes the pressure off staff from trying to organise bus trips every week during terms one and four.
“Most of the staff here have completed swimming training so they can walk with their students a few steps and be at the pool. It’s a great incentive,” Michelle said.
Bass MP Brian Paynter has written to Education Minister James Merlino, seeking money for the school.
But it’s fallen on deaf ears.
The Department of Education wants every student to be able to swim by the end of primary school.
Mr Paynter said the pool helps get kids out the classroom, while learning about water safety.
“There’s nothing like enjoying time around the pool,” he said.