I wish to raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is that the minister reverse his decision to remove the mod 5 portable classroom from Bolwarra Primary School.
Bolwarra is a thriving, growing and positive community on the Henty Highway north of Portland. Bolwarra Primary School has 96 students and supports scores of local families, who over the years have given massive time and effort to make the education experience of their kids something to be proud of. It is a great school, and I was pleased to attend its fantastic school fete on Saturday. It was clear at this event that the school has enormous community participation and support. I met with several members of the school council and the broader school community. In fact Bolwarra students were here at Parliament House with us today.
On Saturday we toured the facilities and discussed the impact and cost of this city-centric decision on this important local school community. It is of deep concern that the Minister for Education has confirmed that the department will remove and relocate ‘buildings that schools might otherwise prefer to keep’. The removal of these facilities will mean students at Bolwarra will not have access to modern, safe and appropriate learning facilities. In fact they will be transferred to disused 1970s-built classrooms that leak when it rains, that are in a dilapidated state and that, frankly, are inappropriate.
What is disappointing for the community is they have not been consulted. Instead they have had this foisted upon them. What is more confusing for the community is that the government will have to reinstate these classrooms, despite the massive cost of their initial removal, to deal with its promised removal of asbestos by 2020. There is an efficient and obvious solution for the safety and amenity of the students at Bolwarra — that is, keep the current classroom and let the kids get on with their learning without this distraction.
I urge the minister to take action and intervene, to show some respect for regional Victoria and to overturn his department’s decision to remove the portables from Bolwarra.