Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood has called on the Victorian Government to prioritise planning for the expansion of Drouin Primary School.
Speaking in Parliament this week Mr Blackwood said Drouin and the surrounding area was expanding at a rapid rate and the growth in population necessitated a proper plan to deal with more families who were choosing to move to the region.
‘Drouin has grown from a population 10 years ago of around 8,000 to almost 16,000 at the present time and is predicted to exceed 20,000 by 2020,' Mr Blackwood said.
‘These are mostly young families moving into the area because Drouin provides a safe and attractive environment to raise a family.
‘The number of students attending Drouin Primary School in 2013 was around 190 and this year, just three years on, there are 270 students enrolled.
‘By 2017 enrollments are predicted to grow to 400 and by 2020 the numbers are estimated to be in the vicinity of 540.
‘Drouin has close access to a first-class health service at the West Gippsland Hospital and tremendous choice of high-quality education at early years, primary and secondary levels.
‘Throw into this mix very competitive land prices and Drouin's proximity and transport links to Melbourne and you have a region that is increasingly popular for young families who may choose to raise their children in a great place but are happy to travel to work outside the area if necessary.
Mr Blackwood said that band aid solutions of portable classrooms would not fix the growing pains facing Drouin Primary School and that a detailed master plan needs to be developed now to help guide real investment in better classroom facilities.
‘There will be a portable arriving on site later this year to provide two extra classrooms for next year, but it is essential that proper planning be undertaken to ensure the level of quality education currently being provided at Drouin Primary School can be maintained into the future.
‘One example is the opportunity to expand the music program across the school if a larger music room could be provided.
‘To optimise the use of space available on the site and to make sure the classroom space provided supports the ongoing delivery of high-quality education, proper planning must be undertaken, preferably before the numbers become unmanageable or portables take up valuable space, prohibiting the best long-term outcomes for staff and students.
‘A properly developed master plan will consider all the alternatives, including purpose-built facilities, and provide options that will ensure the best outcomes possible are achieved. This is the least we can do for the students and dedicated, hardworking staff.
‘I urge the Minister for Education to elevate the needs of Drouin Primary School on his list of priorities and direct that a master plan process for Drouin Primary School be undertaken as soon as possible,’ said Mr Blackwood.