WITH enrolment at Eppalock Primary School doubling in recent years, finding space in the school yard has become increasingly difficult for students.
An old toilet block next to the playground has been filling space for years – made redundant by the inclusion of new toilets in the school’s new building more than five years ago.
The old toilets are now on the way out after the state government provided $129,000 to the school to replace it with a natural playground, along with improved fencing around the school.
Eppalock Primary School council president Alicia Martin said receiving that amount of money saved them years in fundraising.
“It takes a lot of work to raise money – as any school does – but we have 59 students, so that’s not many parents at all,” she said.
“We work really hard to get the money, so getting a big amount like this just means years off our budget.
“We have a building that has the toilets we need and we don’t need to clean two lots of toilets, and another school can use it, so we’ll move it on and that’ll give us space.”
Enrolment has increased from 30 a few years ago to 59 this year, driven by an increase in housing in the Eppalock area and the ongoing expansion of Strathfieldsaye.
The natural playground will include a sandpit, rocks, timber, grass and plants. The old toilet block will be moved to another school.
Ms Martin said parents in Strathfieldsaye were attracted to the small school.
“When the chips are down, everybody rallies together and we help each other out,” she said.
“That really helps students when they’re so little, still in their nurture stage, working out who they are and what sort of personalities they have – it’s really supportive.”
Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan visited the school last month where she was told about the project. She then made a representation to the education minister and the funding was released from the Education Department’s overall budget.
Ms Allan visited the school again on Wednesday to make the announcement, and said the funding would flow right away.
“This is funding that has been made available immediately so the school can get on and do these important works making the school grounds more safe for the young students,” she said.
“By removing these old toilet facilities, it’s going to provide more space. I know the school has got some great ideas about what they want to do.”