WATCHING as another portable building is added to the grounds of Maiden Gully Primary School has become an almost annual occurrence.
Of the 26 grades at the school, just eight are in permanent buildings. Some of the portables have been there for 30 years.
A petition is now circulating in the Maiden Gully community for a new Master Plan for the school after the previous Master Plan – from 2009 – was left to gather dust with no action taken.
The 2009 plan proposed upgrades to the school for 380 students. There are now 565.
School council president Andrew Fawcett said the continued growth of Maiden Gully, with three housing estates being developed, meant action needed to be taken now.
“The school is spending a lot of money on the maintenance of these old portable buildings,” he said.
“That is money that could instead be spent on resources that would improve the learning environment for students.
“With new estates being opened, it’s quite obvious to the Maiden Gully community that the existing school will not be adequate.
“It’s not conducive to modern learning methods.”
Mr Fawcett said the school land was appropriate, and they would lobby for permanent buildings that would allow for future growth as part of the plan.
Students travel to the school from as far away as Strathfieldsaye, Golden Square and Bridgewater, but parents think that restricting enrolments to the school zone would have little impact because of the growth of the area and families at the school that have younger siblings yet to start their schooling.
The Bendigo Advertiser spoke to a number of parents on Friday morning, many of whom believed the school had been left behind due to other recent school developments across Bendigo.
The new estates of Westbury and Armitage are still being built in Maiden Gully, while construction is yet to start on a development by Birchgrove on Edwards Road, expected to add another 1400 homes.
Marong Primary School recently had a Master Plan completed, and is now waiting for funding to put it into action. The opening of Marist College also did not see much of a slowdown in enrolment at Maiden Gully Primary School.
Master plans take about 12 months to complete.
Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said she would be “knocking on the door” of the education minister in the next term of government to lobby for Maiden Gully.
“I’ve been very conscious of the fact that Maiden Gully Primary School needs some significant upgrades,” she said.
“What we need to do is get another Master Plan done that looks at the whole site, and make sure that the school is prepared and well serviced for the growth that we know will happen in Maiden Gully.
“There’s lots and lots of things happening in our schools aside from bricks and mortar – even though bricks and mortar are important. I think we need to also keep in mind that we have some fantastic schools, state schools, who are running extremely well, running great curriculums, and producing outstanding students.”
Balancing needs of 1500 government schools an ‘ongoing challenge’
A spokeswomen for the Education Department said the needs of all schools are considered when considering capital works programs, and the number of public schools in Victoria made this a challenge.
“The Department is aware that schools such as Maiden Gully Primary School may have capital or maintenance requirements,” she said.
“The ongoing challenge is to responsibly balance the needs of 1,500 government schools, all in varying conditions.”
Maiden Gully Primary School received $70,000 in 2016/17 under the planned maintenance program for painting and external works.