I raise a matter for the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is that he meet with the principals and school council representatives of Boronia Heights College and Boronia Primary School as a matter of urgency. The meeting is to discuss how stage 2 funding for the new
Boronia K-12 school can be secured as soon as possible. In the lead-up to this year’s budget I wrote to the minister requesting such a meeting, and I know that the schools were desperately trying to gain access to the minister for a number of months to gain stage 2 funding in this year’s budget. Unfortunately the attempts to both meet the minister and secure $12 million in the 2011-12 budget for this exciting project have failed.
This is the most significant education project in this region of the city of Knox for generations; it is simply that important in terms of the educational opportunities for young people in Boronia and the surrounding communities. I have worked closely with Colin Davies, the principal of Boronia Primary School, and Kate Harnetty, the principal of Boronia Heights College, and both school communities for a number of years to get this project off the ground. It has the full and active support of the eastern regional office of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. It is acknowledged by the department as being a project of the highest priority.
Labor recognised the need and the unique opportunity that this project presented. In the 2010 state budget $10 million was allocated by the previous Labor government for stage 1 works, which I am very proud of. Works are well under way, and I am advised that construction of stage 1 is scheduled to be completed by November or December this year.
I recently visited the construction site and was advised by both Colin and Kate that it was essential that funding for stage 2 be allocated in the 2011 state budget. It was required not only because it makes sense to continue the construction seamlessly and not to have the site lay idle for a 12-month period or longer, but also because the facilities to be constructed in stage 2 are essential for utilisation of the facilities constructed in stage 1. Stage 2 includes a new administration building, a new senior programs building and a new learning neighbourhood facility. The facilities provided for in stage 1 will be of limited use to students until stage 2 is completed.
The other factor that should be taken into account is that every year that Boronia Heights College is unable to begin transferring students to the new school, further pressure is placed on the school in terms of dropping enrolments and maintenance concerns. This delay will hurt students and families.
The Boronia K-12 project came into being because there was a very real concern about the provision of government secondary schools in this part of the city of Knox. Works should not have been delayed, and it will be a massive disappointment for families and students in Boronia that funds for stage 2 have not been forthcoming. I request that the minister meet with the schools as a matter of urgency to discuss how stage 2 funding can be provided as quickly as possible.