EDUCATION minister James Merlino gave nothing away when asked about Korumburra Secondary College’s chances of funding for a rebuild in next year’s budget.
But college council president Stuart Jenkin was pleased that Mr Merlino had visited and seen the aging facilities for himself during a guided tour last Wednesday.
Mr Merlino said the school’s plans, which included new science, technology, food, art and design facilities, suited modern education.
“Jobs that require maths and science are growing at twice the rate of other sectors, and the school will be well placed to deliver on that,” he said.
“These are pretty exciting plans for a physical transition of the whole school which will enable the best quality teaching to be delivered.”
Mr Merlino said he’s visited schools across the state in a similar situation, and admitted there’s a logjam for funding requests.
“There’s a hell of a lot of work that has to take place before we break ground here but the plans for Stage 1 fit in beautifully with the education targets we’ve set.”
Mr Merlino said the Korumburra Secondary College will receive an extra $257,000 in equity funding next year, an increase of $141,000 on last year as part of the Education State commitment to give schools an extra $747 million over the next four years.
The Budget provides $325 million to renovate, refurbish or rebuild 67 schools.
It also includes $180 million for programs that will help families cover the extra costs of education, like camps, excursions and uniforms, so no child misses out.
“We’re investing almost $4 billion to make Victoria the Education State, so every community has access to great local schools and every child gets the chance to succeed.”
Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien, who has taken a petition to parliament calling on the State Government to fund the Korumburra project, said he would continue the fight.
“I’m really pleased the Minister responded to my invitation to visit the school but I hope next time he comes with a cheque to complete the rebuild that was started by The Nationals in Government.
“It’s a bit rich for Labor to say they’re building the education state when they’ve not contributed to projects like Korumburra Secondary College.
“I will continue to work the Korumburra community to complete this important project and I’ll be keeping the pressure on Labor to deliver.”
Mr Merlino also visited the Mirboo North Secondary College to address the South Gippsland Principals Network on the value of learning from local industry and the importance of building links between schools and industry.
Mirboo North and Korumburra secondary college have both established working relationships with local firms, which includes work experience placements and staff from the companies coming into the schools to work with students.
The South Gippsland Principals Network is made up of principals from 18 primary schools, five secondary colleges and two specialist schools in the South Gippsland and Bass Coast area.
“The visit to Mirboo North Secondary College was a fantastic opportunity to talk the principals through our Education State targets and also listen to their ideas about how we can fix long-standing issues within the system.”
Minister blames Coalition for school woes in Wonthaggi
STATE Education Minister James Merlino received a first-hand look at Wonthaggi Secondary College’s cramped, archaic senior campus last week.
It marked the umpteenth time a politician has been led around the McBride Avenue site in recent years, with ongoing hopes that the school will one day be rebuilt to a modern standard seeming further and further away.
College principal Garry Dennis and senior campus principal Darren Parker gave Mr Merlino a guided tour of the school whilst pointing out that the college, and the wider community, is doing its best to make do with what it has got.
“This is an ideal site location-wise but we have no capacity for expansion whatsoever,” Mr Dennis said.
“It’s really hopelessly inadequate.
“In my office, for example, you might have noticed there was another desk.
“We have desks and offices for teachers in bizarre places.”
Despite struggling with the everyday challenges of educating 540 students on a campus that is seemingly stuck in a time warp, Mr Dennis said everyone continues to do their best.
“I’m immensely proud of the school and what it achieves and I think we still function really well,” he said.
“But do we have good facilities? No.”
Mr Merlino said very little as he wandered the grounds, occasionally stopping to chat to students.
Bass MP Brian Paynter – who has continued to follow-up on a pre-election promise to see the school rebuilt, despite the Coalition losing power – was also on hand for the tour.
“Hopefully this is the first step towards getting (the rebuild) in the 2016/17 budget,” Mr Paynter commented.
Before visiting the school, Mr Merlino said he also stopped by the parcel of land on McKenzie Street earmarked for development of the Education Precinct.
“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with the school leadership team and talking with students about the excellent work being done at Wonthaggi Secondary College,” he said afterwards.
“It was important to visit the school to see the facilities first-hand.
“The school is facing a range of infrastructure challenges born out of the former Coalition Government’s neglect after they halved the infrastructure budget during their term in office.
“We are now working through the problems created by the former government’s neglect across the state, but these issues won’t be fixed overnight.
“The needs of Wonthaggi Secondary will be considered through the usual budget processes.”
Shadow Minister for Education, Nick Wakeling, said the community would be disappointed to learn that the Education Minister “refused” to announce vital funding for the school.
“It seems clear that Wonthaggi, like many regional communities, will continue to be ignored,” he said.
The only funding Wonthaggi Secondary College has received recently is $80,000, which went towards repainting a main building.