Michelle Handley thinks the facilities at her old high school make a bleak comparison to the ones forecast in the state Education Minister’s press releases.
- Many having been calling for upgrades to Esperance Senior High School for years
- The education minister says the school can initiate its own master plan if it chooses to do so
- It is not clear who would fund this planning work
A few months ago came the news of work beginning at Lynwood Senior High School – $ 25.3 million for a new classroom, student services, performing and visual arts facilities and a sports hall.
Mid-last year came an announcement of an architect appointed for a $ 35m upgrade at Rossmoyne Senior High.
And in Perth’s south, about $ 30m was awarded for a new performing arts center, music rooms, a dance studio, a visual arts area and classrooms at Ridge View Secondary College.
But notably absent, particularly after last week’s state budget, was the project that Ms Handley was reading press releases hoping to see – a funding commitment for her old high school.
The Esperance Senior High School P&C president said many of the classrooms at the south coast school were the same she sat in more than 30 years ago.
“It’s extraordinary when you go and look at schools in other places, the amazing facilities the state is providing for kids. It’s wonderful,” Ms Handley said.
Education Minister Sue Ellery said her government had already “invested significantly” in Esperance Senior High School, which is the isolated town’s only public high school of about 1,000 students.
She pointed to a recent $ 1.5 million STEM classroom upgrade, design and technology upgrades and solar panels for the school.
It is believed about 2 million has also been spent on maintenance.
But Ms Handley believes the school has still been short changed.
Many in the community would agree, with two local candidates in last year’s state election saying improving regional high schools were top priorities and shire president Ian Mickel saying upgrading the school was the number one thing he wanted to see the state government deliver for the region.
‘Not fit for purpose’
Ms Handley said her concerns about the school’s infrastructure included:
- Dark, gloomy classrooms
- Rusty chairs
- A classroom off-limits due to building integrity problems
- An indoor sports center too small for some sports
- Programs for Indigenous students running in demountable buildings
- Children getting wet on rainy days and sunburnt on hot days because of a lack of shelter
- No modern technology learning tools for teachers
- No dedicated facilities for performing arts students
“In a nutshell, the school was designed and built in the ’60s and it’s not fit for purpose anymore,” she said.
“I’m 50 now, I went to that school and there’s a part of that building that is exactly the same as when I went there.
Master plan may help case
Shadow education minister and local MP Peter Rundle put out a statement last month saying Ms Ellery had written to him and “given the green light for the development of a master plan” for the school.
Given that correspondence, he said he was surprised not to see funding for master planning in this year’s state budget.
Ms Ellery told the ABC the school “can initiate its own master plan should they choose to do so”.
But it remains unclear who would pay for that plan.
Mr Rundle said putting together a master plan was not a prerequisite to get state government funding but might help the case and hoped one could be formulated before the end of the year.
Ms Handley said the P&C and school board would work with the Esperance Shire, the Esperance Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission and local politicians on a way forward.
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