School advocates face minister, Sunraysia Daily, Mildura VIC

THE Northern Mallee School Council Presidents Group is determined to show a united front and collective approach to the regions education when Minister for Education James Merlino visits Sunraysia today. In a first, Mr Merlino will sit down with school council presidents and local principals in an informal setting to discuss the governments way forward for rural education. Northern Mallee School Council Presidents Group chair Tony Alessi said they had been working on getting Mr Merlino to visit the region since Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes tour of local schools in March. Ive been to Melbourne and talked to senior advisors and weve been working with the group Our Children Our Schools who regularly talk to Mr Merlino, which has all culminated in Jaclyn Symes facilitating this meeting, Mr Alessi said. During the meeting principals will also be given the rare opportunity to share their schools pressing issues direct with the Mr Merlino. It allows the principals and school council presidents to have a little bit of a voice and presence with Mr Merlino of education and this allows relationships to be built and allows for the improvement of future communication. Mr Alessi said following the governments commitment to making Victoria the education state, he was looking forward to hearing about their future projects. Theyve actually dealt with needs-based funding in what we think is a fairly progressive way and they even gave money to TAFE which was taken away by the previous government, he said. This government has been incredibly proactive in rural education and some of the things theyre talking about are really exciting. While in the region Mr Merlino will visit Robinvale Secondary College and Red Cliffs Secondary Colleges FLO Connect campus.