STUDENTS at a quarter of the state’s public schools take lessons in uncomfortable, damp and draughty classrooms that are waiting for maintenance, the Australian Education Union says.
AEU Victorian branch president Mary Bluett said it was a statewide problem for schools, including Ballarat Secondary College (BSC) Wendouree Campus, which enlisted its own students to rebuild the walls of several classrooms on Thursday.
The campus had long been neglected by successive governments, with the last building being erected in the 1970s
Ms Bluett said the current government had promised $0.27 billion to rebuilding and modernising schools and was yet to honour that commitment.
“Over two thirds of schools across the state are waiting to hear when the government’s going to address school infrastructure,” she said.
“In the interim schools have looked around and said ‘we can’t wait’.
“A good quarter of schools would have the sort of conditions that are hot in summer, cold in winter, drafty and damp.
“It says a lot about how governments of the day respect education for kids.”
Ms Bluett said the AEU was calling on the government to remove uncertainty for schools by committing to funding and providing a timeline for doing so.
“You’ve got all these schools with master plans ready to go, with no idea of when,” she said.
Ballarat High School principal Gary Palmer said he had been seeking funding to fix the school’s flood-damaged gymnasium since 2010.
He said the current funding allocation covered only half of the repair works.
“It’s usable, the floors have been done, now we’re looking for stage two - it’s refurbishing the toilets, painting, lining walls,” he said.
“It’s tired and just in need of an upgrade.
“Because of its condition at the moment we’re not allowing the community to use the building.”
Mr Palmer said Ballarat High School had buildings that were more than a century old, but had been fortunate in recent years to build a new peforming arts centre, refurbish its Year 7 north wing and upgrade its two ovals.