Schools: Boronia K-12 project

I raise for the Minister for Education a matter in relation to stage 2 funding for the Boronia K-12 project. The action I am seeking is that the minister approve the funding required to go to the contract documentation stage as a matter of urgency. During an adjournment debate in May I raised the matter of this exciting regeneration project and requested that the minister meet with the participating schools — Boronia Primary School and Boronia Heights College. I understand that on 5 August the minister met with representatives from both schools, and I appreciate that.

I understand parents from both schools were passionate in informing the minister of the absolute necessity of this project and the massive difference it will make in this region of the city of Knox.

As I have mentioned in previous correspondence and in my previous adjournment matter, this project is the highest priority of the department’s eastern metropolitan region. This fact was highlighted again by the parents at the meeting with the minister. The principals, Kate Harnetty and Colin Davies, and the parents outlined their vision for an innovative and seamless curriculum from prep to year 12. Most significantly, the school communities took the minister through the urgent need to complete the transition from the two school sites to one.

The importance of this regeneration project was recognised by the Labor government, and I am proud of the $l0 million that was provided by Labor in the 2010 state budget to deliver stage 1. When earlier in the year both school communities and I raised this matter with the minister, we were seeking funding support for stage 2 in the 2011 state budget. Unfortunately that did not occur. In May I made the point that the risk in not providing funding will be the impact on Boronia Heights College in terms of both enrolments and the state of its facilities.

Every year that the college is unable to transfer students to the K-12 site, these concerns — falling enrolments and high maintenance costs — are exacerbated. Missing out in 2011 highlights even more the desperate need for funding in 2012.

The immediate issue is what is required to be done to allow the project to be funded in the 2012 state budget. The issue is funding for the contract documentation stage. I understand that at the August meeting the minister indicated that if the architects sent details about the documentation required to get the project up to tender stage he would see if funding were possible to cover this and would let the schools know in the ‘next couple of weeks’. Minx Architecture provided the requested information to the minister’s office that very day, but to date it has not heard back from the minister. The funding required for the documentation stage is in the order of $400 000.

The schools have been advised that this stage will take around three months, and therefore time is of the essence. If the contract documentation funding is approved shortly, then the schools will be able to hit the ground running as soon as stage 2 funding is announced — hopefully in the 2012 state budget. If approval is delayed, up to a year will be lost.

I repeat that this is the highest priority for the region. It is a project of immense educational significance in the city of Knox. We cannot as a community either accept a half-finished school or allow the slow destruction of the college. I urge the minister to approve contract documentation funding for the Boronia K-12 project as a matter of urgency.

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