Transformation and growing pains are the two hallmarks of the issues that Ballarat's education sector has faced throughout 2019 and will continue to work through for 2020.
Many millions of dollars have been spent across the city's government schools transforming them from rundown facilities to new high-tech learning spaces, and the first new government primary school to be built in the city in decades will welcome students through its gates at the start of the 2020 school year.
Ballarat's burgeoning population is putting stress on infrastructure and services but none more-so that the pressure on schools across the city, many of which are at bursting point.
A report released in October showed Delacombe and Alfredton are expected to more than double in size in less than 20 years, reigniting discussion over the need for another secondary school in the city's south west.
Delacombe's population is expected to more than double from 7195 in 2016 to 19,196 by 2036, a 2.7 per cent annual growth figure, the highest in regional Victoria, with Alfredton's tipped to climb from 11,852 to 26,437.
The opening of the new $17.1 million Lucas Primary School will take up some of the pressure when it opens its doors to about 60 pupils across three classes on the first school day of 2020.
The push has been on for a government primary school at Lucas for many years, with the neighbouring Siena Catholic Primary School opening at the beginning of 2017.
Growth in the city's north has squeezed Miners Rest Primary School, where the school's enrolment has more than trebled over the past seven years.
The state government has promised a new Miners Rest Primary School, pledging a total of more than $21 million to the project, and next year should bring some certainty on the site for a new school, with three blocks of land identified as likely sites in addition to the possibility of buying more land adjoining the current school and building new facilities.
While the location of the new school is yet to be finalised, facilities will include new classrooms, administration block and a competition-grade gymnasium and oval available to the community and sporting groups after school hours.
Many of Ballarat's secondary schools have taken on a new look over the past year, upgrading tired and outdated facilities and preparing for increasing enrolments.
Population growth continues to put pressure on the high schools, with the number of year sevens set to start high school in 2020 almost double the number of year 12 students who finished in 2019.
The biggest growth is at Woodmans Hill Secondary College and Mount Rowan Secondary College where almost four times as many year sevens are enrolled as year 12s who have just finished their exams, and student population is almost 25 per cent higher than two years ago.
In 2018 there were 635 students across the two schools and next year there will be about 880 - 450 at Woodmans Hill and 430 at Mount Rowan.
Both schools have been extensively rebuilt over the past 18 months, with $6.2 million spent at Woodmans Hill Secondary College and $12.6 million at Mount Rowan.
WATCH A VIDEO BELOW ABOUT THE NEW BUILDING PLANNED FOR DAMASCUS COLLEGE
All five government secondary colleges have finished substantial building projects, with Mount Rowan and Woodmans Hill almost entirely rebuilt over the past 18 months with $6.2 million spent at Woodmans Hill and $12.6 at Mount Rowan.
"Our kids deserve their school to be at same standard as schools in other parts of Ballarat," Mount Rowan principal Seona Murnane said earlier this year.
"The school was built and equipped in the 1970s but we need to train our kids how to use the technology of the future," she said.
BALLARAT'S GROWING PROBLEM
- Ballarat school zones change in response to growth
- New building projects transforming Mount Rowan Secondary College
- Secondary college upgrades underway
- Ballarat's secondary schools bracing for massive population growth with new student numbers outstripping those leaving
- New schools guaranteed to help ease Ballarat's growing problem, regardless of election outcome
- Ballarat's population grows by almost 2,000 new residents in a year
- Demand soars for enrolment in Ballarat's Catholic secondary schools
- School squeeze as Miners Rest Primary enrolments soar
Expansion is not limited to the government sector, with Ballarat's strong private and Catholic education sectors also enjoying strong demand for enrolments as the city's population rises.
Loreto College released long-term plans to double in size, build another secondary campus, reintroduce boarding and eventually offer all year levels from kindergarten to year 12.
Damascus College announced plans to build a $5.5 million examination centre and gathering space, and Ballarat Clarendon College have vowed to continue talks with neighbours who have objected to road and laneway closures, traffic management and parking issues surrounding the school's planned expansion.
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