TIME-HONOURED working bees and parent support are proving crucial to preventing Ballarat schools falling into disrepair.
An Auditor-General’s report has determined a whopping $420 million is needed to fix decaying Victorian government schools, with an estimated $18.3 million work required on schools in the Grampians region.
Acting Victorian Auditor-General Peter Frost found a combined $4.5 billion funding from the federal government’s Building the Education Revolution and the former state government’s Victorian Schools Plan had doubled school space but new classrooms still required maintenance funding to remain in good condition.
Ballarat schools are relying on in-kind labour from their school communities to help meet maintenance budgets.
Buninyong Primary School principal Bernie Conlan said his school was lucky most of its buildings were permanent brick structures and required less work than other schools.
But the odd blocked drain or vandalism could quickly stretch the budget, and asking the Education Department for more funding help was hard.
“No matter what school you’re in, unless you’re very proactive with parents and staff, calling in favours from parents that are tradies, it’s tough,” Mr Conlan said.
“Our school’s very forthright in getting the community involved.”
The school’s rural Scotsburn campus has a working bee this weekend and Mr Conlan said almost every parent would be helping in some way.
Phoenix P-12 College principal Scott Dellar said his school had worked hard to use maintenance budgets and school funding to keep facilities safe for students.
But the facilities had run their course.
“The buildings have done thier job properly for a long period of time and as a result, they’re tired,” Mr Dellar said.
Mr Dellar said Phoenix College was ranked in the top five state schools needing urgent repair.
Fencing went up this week for the first stage of the school’s $36 million 10-year building project on its Sebastopol campus.
The Victorian government says it will spend $51.5 million at more than 200 schools on urgent maintenance as identified in the audit.