Tecoma Primary School Funding

I raise an adjournment matter for the Minister for Education, and it is in regard to Tecoma Primary School, which is on the border of my electorate and the seat of Gembrook. It is actually in the seat of Gembrook but many families whose children attend the school are my constituents in Monbulk. Obviously there are also many families who are constituents of the member for Gembrook. I raise this adjournment matter following a meeting with the school principal, Rohan Thomson, and the school president, Michael Faul. It relates to funding from the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program and the state government’s Better Schools Today (BST) program. The action I seek is that the minister provide the remaining funds needed to complete the refurbishment of the administration block.

This school received BER funding in 2010. It qualified for the $2.5 million template but opted for the $2 million template. The balance of $500 000 was to go towards the refurbishment of existing buildings on the school site. The school combined that figure with $100 000 from other school BER projects and $500 000 from the BST program. In total the school had $3.1 million. The funding was to be spent on four projects: the main building refurbishment, the template the school chose, a library refurbishment and the administration block refurbishment.

All the costings indicated that the $3.1 million would be easily able to accommodate those works.

The letter I received said the cheapest quote for the refurbishment of block B was $350 000 after the school reduced the scope of works from its original plans. The letter says:

I met on July 2 with a representative from our project manager, Coffey Projects, and a representative from Arup who were employed by the department to watch over the project. At this meeting, a proposal was tentatively put to us that the remaining $250 000 could be managed by us.

The school was told that it could manage the remaining $250 000 to finish that refurbishment.

Following that meeting the principal was verbally advised by a representative of the eastern metropolitan region of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to take up that offer. The letter goes on to say:

Inexplicably, just two weeks later, despite there being no works completed on site for 12 months, we were told that there was no money left to complete the project, there has been a further $250 000 in costs identified …

How can that be? A sum of $250 000 was on the table to finish the project and the region told the school to take the money to complete the project, yet two weeks later the school was advised that the money had disappeared.

I ask the minister to reinstate the funding. The current situation of the school administration being based in a portable building while the administration building is empty is just ridiculous.