WHITE Hills Primary School’s portable buildings will likely have permanent replacements in the coming years as it attempts to cater for growth in Bendigo’s rapidly expanding northern suburbs.
The school’s enrolment has increased from 350 students in 2009 to 650 in 2018, reaching the capped capacity.
But buildings have not been upgraded to cater for the growth, with half of the classes in portable buildings along with the library – which was relocated twice in three years – and art room.
On Friday, the state government contributed $500,000 to form a master plan to rebuild much of the school.
White Hills Primary School assistant principal Scott Ross said the school community was pleased to have an opportunity to find permanent solutions to the portable buildings.
“Those portable buildings obviously decay over a period of time, so you’ve got to find money to replace that while you’re also trying to get resources for kids to use in their everyday classroom life,” he said.
“The students here deserve a permanent structure that they can learn in.
“With that $500,000, it really allows us to plan effectively towards building buildings that are capable of housing us for the next 20 to 30 years.”
The school’s increase in enrolment in recent years can be partly attributed to students attending from further afield, as the school covers a wide area. The closest public schools to White Hills are Epsom, Lightning Reef and Kennington.
Mr Ross said they were keen to see all public schools in the area develop as well.
“We want to build up the capacity of other local schools as well so we’re not ending up with a thousand students and the other schools only have 100 or 150 kids,” he said.
“That’s not healthy for the system, and that’s not healthy for our school.”
Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan visited the school on Friday, and said population growth in the area was putting pressure on public schools.
She said the planning phase would likely take between six and 12 months.
The funding was part of $180.8 million in school improvements statewide, to be announced in the upcoming state budget.
Final funding to flow to Castlemaine College
Castlemaine Secondary College will receive $11.75 million for the completion of Stage 3 of works, which includes a precinct for visual arts, fabrics and food tech, a performing arts precinct and global learning centre.
It also funds the demolition of buildings and landscaping works.
The school received $2.5 million in 2015 to complete Stage 2 a high-tech engineering, chemistry and physics precinct.
Spring Gully Primary School will receive $2.17 million for the next stage of upgrades for junior and middle years’ learning areas. The funding is on top of $5.17 million for works at the school, which recently started.
Dunolly Primary School will receive $161,000 and Kerang Primary School will receive $400,000.