Thumbs up for school cash splash

Principal Colin Burke (front) with students: Damla; Brooklyn; Riley; and Samreen. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 238521_01

By Laura Michell

Five new schools will be built in Whittlesea and Hume and the next stage of Craigieburn’s Elevation Secondary College will go ahead, following a state government cash splash on education in the 2021-22 state budget.

The budget also includes $10.71 million to boost capacity at Craigieburn’s Mt Ridley P-12 College.

Yuroke MP Ros Spence said the funding would help provide students with great learning spaces and enable the school to replace existing temporary classrooms.

The government plans to build Merrifield West and Wollert East secondary colleges, and Wollert West and Haynes Hill primary schools, as well as the Mt Ridley Specialist School in time for the 2023 school year, as part of a plan to open 12 new schools across Melbourne.

Elevation Secondary College will receive $26 million to complete its building works.

Principal Colin Burke said the school’s second stage would comprise a gymnasium, specialist performing arts and music classrooms, general purpose classrooms, an oval and extra outside hardcourts.

He said the additional learning spaces will provide the school with more capacity to cope with the “extraordinary” enrolment applications it has received.

“It’s really exciting, we have been waiting for the announcement to come through,” he said.

“We have 320 students but demand for enrolments had been enormous. Because we are partially built we have to keep to our zone. There is about 200 families we have said no to.”

Whittlesea council has welcomed the government’s budget investment in schools, particularly the Mt Ridley Specialist School.

“A specialist school is set to be built just over the City of Whittlesea border, in the City of Hume, which will bring enormous benefit to our younger residents who might not thrive in mainstream schools. Having Mount Ridley Specialist School on our doorstep will expand accessibility and inclusivity options for our residents with diverse needs,” chair administrator Lydia Wilson said.