Member for Narracan, Gary Blackwood MP addressed members of Parliament last week urging the Minister for Education to intervene and reverse the decision of his department to remove a portable classroom from the Warragul North Primary School.
Mr Blackwood said the department have deemed Warragul North Primary School to be in excess regarding its mod 5 portable classroom allocation when reviewed against school enrolments.
“It appears that the department has come to this decision without even visiting the school and has based its decision on centralised mathematical modelling,” Mr Blackwood said.
“2015 enrolments at Warragul North Primary School are up by 3.2 per cent to a total number of 550 students. The population in the Warragul area is growing rapidly, West Gippsland Hospital is currently dealing with around 1000 births per year. This current year may well be the third year in a row that this number of births has occurred at the hospital. This means that within two years the places required for primary school children is going to spike dramatically.”
Mr Blackwood said added to this scenario is the fact that these classrooms have been on site for many years, covered walkways and other infrastructure have been installed by the parents committee, at its expense, to improve the amenity and safety of the classroom connectivity for the students. The removal of a portable is going to cause considerable disruption to the area and require substantial remediation works to be undertaken.
“The ‘spare’ classroom identified for removal is currently being fully utilised by staff and students.”
Mr Blackwood said the removal of a portable classroom was put to the school late in 2014 by the department. The school contacted me for assistance and I took the matter to the then Minister for Education, Hon. Martin Dixon to intervene. Once the former minister was provided with information on the potential population growth in the area, the number of births currently occurring annually at the local hospital and the potential for the school’s enrolments to return to numbers in excess of 600 in the very near future, he intervened and informed the Warragul North Primary School community that it would not have to relinquish any of its portable classrooms.
“The Coalition Government used common sense and forward thinking in order to avoid wasting taxpayers money and causing serious disruption to the school amenity by removing a portable classroom that in less than three years will have to be returned to the school due to increased enrolments.”
Member for Narracan, Gary Blackwood MP called on Minister Merlino to fix the problem emphasising that it won’t cost any money to leave the portable in place.
“I urge the current Minister for Education to stop laying blame on the former government and deal with the matter at hand.” Mr Blackwood said.