By Michael Giles
THANKS to the eleventh hour decision by the Bass Coast Shire Council, to commit $1.5 million to the $6 million cost of a shared sports stadium in Wonthaggi, all our ducks are now in-a-row.
It’s time, Mr Premier, to make a definitive commitment to replacing the deplorably inadequate senior campus of the Wonthaggi Secondary College in next Wednesday’s May Budget.
We can’t withstand further delay.
Certainly there are some fine education facilities in the South Gippsland and Bass Coast areas. We can be pleased about that at least.
The impressive developments at Newhaven College on the Island, at Mary MacKillop in Leongatha and also at the state secondary colleges in Leongatha and now Korumburra are all welcome.
But they have only served to underscore just how terrible the conditions are at Wonthaggi’s senior campus.
That’s not to say that our kids at Wonthaggi Secondary haven’t been able to excel in those facilities, they have, and it’s a tribute to the staff who have to put up with the conditions year after year, that they’ve been able to look beyond the cold, cramped rooms, the crumbling walls and leaky roofs to see a bright future.
But good facilities have to make a difference where retention rates and aspiration levels are concerned and for too long we’ve lagged behind in these and other measures due to our substandard facilities.
Certainly some families have taken the decision to remove their kids from the situation but not everyone can afford the alternative of a private education. Most have got to finish their schooling at Wonthaggi Secondary College.
And it’s simply not good enough for a growing community to have to put up with such a poorly resourced state school.
Visits by the Deputy Premier and Minister for Education, the Hon James Merlino, in the past year and his genuine words of support have raised hopes that 2017 will be our year.
We’re not prepared to pop the champagne corks just yet but surely, they can’t let us down now.
And as late as it was, the decision by the Bass Coast Shire Council to support the development of a three-court stadium with the proposed secondary college development demonstrates total community support for the Wonthaggi Secondary College rebuilding project.
At long last, Mr Premier, it’s Wonthaggi’s turn to shine.