Schools push pet projects, Wangaratta Chronicle, Wangaratta VIC

Education Minister sees development needs for staff, students WANGARATTA schools took the chance to present their development plans to Deputy Premier and Education Minister James Merlino when he visited the city yesterday. While no promises were forthcoming, principals at Appin Park and Wangaratta Primary schools, Wangaratta District Specialist School, and Wangaratta High School welcomed the opportunity to familiarise Mr Merlino with their hopes for the future. And the minister, who toured the schools with Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria), said he also appreciated being able to discuss the proposed projects on site. Its one thing to read about the schools, but its so important to see things first-hand, he said. Each of the schools has their own needs and challenges, and today was about talking with them about what they need. Appin Park Primary School took the first Wangaratta stop to impress on Mr Merlino its need for a revitalised staff and administration area. Principal Wendy Larcombe said the school was keen to develop a more attractive front window, a project estimated to cost $400,000 to $500,000. Continued page 3 Schools push pet projects with minister From page 1 Ms Larcombe said investigations undertaken by the previous government in 2013 found the Appin Park building was in the red zone for replacement. We are waiting very optimistically and hoping for the best, she said. Wangaratta District Specialist School made sure Mr Merlino was well aware of its landlocked position in Appin Street, and its increasing need for a new, larger campus. The school has already expressed interest in the vacant former Ovens College building in Greta Road, and assistant principal Chris Harvison said it was hoped the schools need would also be considered as part of the Rural City of Wangarattas plans for the growth corridor in nearby Worland Road. Our enrolments have grown steadily in the last five years, and our data tells us that will continue, Mr Harvison said. We have an obligation to cater for these students, which presents us with many and varied challenges, and we need to be resourced adequately to be able to achieve that. If our growth continues as it is, well start next year already spilling. School council president Darryl Henwood said it was time for a decision. Wed like to see something happen in terms of planning for the future, he said. At Wangaratta Primary School, principal Steve Murphy and Rural City of Wangaratta director community wellbeing Jaime Carroll both spoke about the schools plans for a multipurpose sports and performing arts centre, which could also cater for the community after hours. The school hopes to use an area which takes in its decommissioned former indoor swimming pool to develop the centre, which would then free up its heritage building for other purposes. And with a dearth of indoor sports facilities in the city, Ms Carroll said the schools proactive move to have the project considered as part of councils current CBD master plan appeared to be a good fit. Its testament to how the community can work in with groups like schools, she said. She said multi-purpose facilities were the best way to attract funding, and were also a responsible approach to providing for the community. We would certainly support it from a strategic perspective, and wherever we could, she said. Mr Merlino said the proposal presented a unique opportunity, with the school and the community on exactly the same page. He encouraged both parties to keep Ms Symes informed of their progress in discussions, and in terms of seeking funding for the proposal. Mr Merlino also visited Wangaratta High School yesterday afternoon, and was expected to discuss the schools plans for further development.