I read with dismay the description of dear old Geelong High School as 'the most neglected school in Geelong'. Okay, I know that when it rains, there's trouble in the library, etc. etc. And we know the school well, after living in Shenton Manse for nine years and even our old house now belongs to the school. Our sons went to that school, our grandsons go there now. Well, if Labour wins, they'll fix it up. Well...if!
Geelong High Principal Glen Davis inspects the damage caused by heavy rain at the school library. Source: News Corp Australia
GEELONG’S most run-down school is set for a major facelift if Labor wins this year’s state election.
Opposition leader Daniel Andrews will visit Geelong High School today to announce his party will fund the start of a long-awaited refurbishment.
The $12 million promise will provide new classrooms, offices and toilet blocks as well as arts and hospitality facilities in the aged Winstanley building while adding a new storey to the Kroger building and funding plans for further upgrades.
Riddled with asbestos and rotten, crumbling walls and ceilings, Geelong High regularly floods during heavy rain, with sandbags sometimes used to prevent damage. Disability access is also compromised.
The school will celebrate 100 years at its Eastern Park site next year, and Mr Andrews said the upgrades were long overdue.
“Kids in Geelong can’t get a first rate education in a second rate classroom,” he said yesterday.
“Labor has listened to parents, students and the Geelong Advertiser, and we agree Geelong High students deserve world-class facilities.
“Only Labor will rebuild and redevelop Geelong High School, to give our kids the best start.”
Geelong High School educates 950 students, with its population drawn from more than 40 different feeder schools throughout the city.
Despite a masterplan that detailed plans for a $20 million redevelopment, the works have not been funded, and in 2011 the school was ranked the Geelong region’s most neglected school.
Labor’s promise will fund stage one of the planned works, and looms as a key pledge in its fight to hold the pivotal marginal seats of Geelong and Bellarine in November’s election.
Christine Couzens, who will replace sitting MP Ian Trezise as Labor’s candidate in Geelong, said local builders and other companies would be given priority when the work at the school was tendered, while Belarine MP Lisa Neville welcomed the pending announcement.
Deputy Labor leader and Shadow Education Minister James Merlino will join Mr Andrews and the local MPs for today’s announcement.
Mr Andrews visited Geelong High last year, and was criticised at the time by Education Minister Martin Dixon for raising expectations at the school without committing funding.
The Government yesterday announced it would fund $23 million of improvements at schools in Bentleigh, Horsham and Timboon, saying the works were identified as part of its maintenance audit of the state’s schools.
“With a record $8.8 billion funding for schools in 2014 alone, I am proud to lead a government that is focused on building a better education system for all students and their families,” Premier Denis Napthine said.