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Schools between ‘rock and hard place’ with only 30 percent of building funded

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Emma Kealy signs the petition calling for funding to be allocated to complete the Warracknabeal Education Precinct.
Emma Kealy signs the petition calling for funding to be allocated to complete the Warracknabeal Education Precinct.

THE Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy and Leader of The Nationals, Peter Walsh have launched a petition calling on the Andrews state government to commit urgently needed funds to complete the

Warracknabeal Education Precinct currently under construction, after visiting the new school site on Tuesday afternoon.

The former Liberal Nationals government provided funding to commence planning for the project in 2014, followed by an $8 million pre-election commitment to bring these plans to fruition.

In limbo

But the current state government has provided only a fraction of the funding required to complete the project, leaving the plan to consolidate the Warracknabeal Special Development School, Secondary College and Primary School in limbo.

The schools now face the impossible decision of continuing to work over split campuses, or just staying put in their current facilities and leaving brand new school buildings empty, until the funding required to complete the project is received.

Discussions

Mr Walsh and Ms Kealy visited the Warracknabeal Primary School building site this week to discuss the half-completed state of the Warracknabeal Education Precinct and the urgent need for funding to complete the project.

“The Liberal Nationals believe all young people deserve the very best educational services and opportunities whether they live in the city or the country,” Ms Kealy said.

“There is no doubt quality educational facilities help attract new families to regional centres, ensuring these communities continue to grow and prosper.”

Petition

“This petition will send a clear message to Daniel Andrews that all young people are entitled to a quality education and the residents of Lowan will accept nothing less,” she said.

Mr Walsh said while the Premier for Melbourne still hasn’t got a plan to manage Victoria’s growing population, the Nationals were focused on speaking to Regional Victorians about the projects they want to see in their community.

History of project

The fight for an education precinct goes back more than 12 years and on completion will see the creation of an education precinct that takes children from pre-school right through to year 12.

In the state budget of 2016/17 the Special Development School received $2 million and the Secondary College received $4 million.

Plans were developed and tenders sought during the following year with work commencing in late 2017.

Fast forward almost 12 months and students at the Warracknabeal Primary School attend classes at a glorified building site, while students from the

Secondary College and Special Development School wonder if they will ever see their promised new schools completed.

No further funding yet

Concerns grew for the future of Warracknabeal’s Education Precinct following the release of the State Budget for 2018/19.

No funding allocation was allocated for the fi nal two stages of the long awaited education precinct.
When contacted, the Education Department responded with:

The Victorian Government invested $6 million to the precinct in the 2016-17 state budget and construction is underway on new buildings for Warracknabeal Special Development School and Warracknabeal Secondary College.

These buildings are expected to be completed by the end of 2018 and the department will continue to work with the schools on a transition plan that best meets the needs of the community.

Fight for funds

Local member, Emma Kealy, has been scathing of the current government stating Warracknabeal has been let down and students left in an untenable situation.

“Warracknabeal school communities have been left stunned that Labor failed to fund Stage-2 of the Warracknabeal Education Precinct. Labor previously funded only part of the Special Development School build and part of the Secondary College build.”

“Now the schools have been left with the impossible decision of either working over split campuses when they simply do not have enough staff, or just stay put and leave brand new part-built schools empty,” Ms Kealy said recently.

Escalating concerns

Ms Kealy has made numerous representations to the government for urgent funding to complete Stage-2 and consolidate all the schools on the one site after personally visiting the schools and seeing firsthand the poor condition of facilities on the existing sites.

She has escalated the community’s concern about the half-completed state of the project in parliament.

“Labor have really stuffed this up, and its principals, educators and students will have to work with Labor’s mess of half built schools,” Ms Kealy said.

Community support

“There’s clear community support for the new education precinct in Warracknabeal and a drive to provide the very best start in life for our local kids,” Mr Walsh said.

“The Nationals have a vision to decentralise our state, so all of Victoria shares in the benefits of our state’s population growth, not just  Melbourne.”

“Our plan to grow regional Victoria includes investing in projects that will make a real difference in our regional communities by supporting good, secure local jobs and boosting our regional economies,” he said.

Petition forms are available at a number of Warracknabeal businesses including the Warracknabeal Herald, Warracknabeal Newsagency, Warrack Home Timber and Hardware and Emma Kealy’s electoral office at 114 Firebrace Street, Horsham or by calling Ms Kealy’s office on 5382 0097.