Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Malvern Primary School: funding
Mr O'BRIEN (Malvern) -- I raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Education. The action that I seek is for the minister to review her department's decision to refuse funding to Malvern Primary School under rounds 1 and 2 of the BER (Building the Education Revolution) program and to ensure that none of the school's $3 million allocation is withheld.
Malvern Primary School is a fantastic school in my electorate that has educated generations of Victorians since it was established in 1884. Its main buildings were constructed in 1884 and 1907. It is a vibrant school with enthusiastic students, committed parents, dedicated teachers and progressive leadership. However, because of the age of its facilities, some of which are heritage listed, it stands in need of a major renewal.
I note at this point that Malvern primary, like every state school in my electorate, has not been selected for the Victorian government's own rebuilding program. Although the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development states that the school's extended long-term enrolment is 450, the school currently has 693 students enrolled, and there is no prospect of a decline in those numbers.
According to the commonwealth Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations website, all primary schools in Australia can access BER funding, including under the Primary Schools for the 21st Century program. The website states that the indicative funding cap under BER for primary schools with more than 400 students, such as Malvern primary, is $3 million.
The school sought funding for a 21st century library and learning centre.
Such a project would make an enormous difference to the entire school community, but the application has been refused by the Brumby government under rounds 1 and 2 of the BER primary school program.
The reasons given by the minister's department in refusing the application were twofold. First, the department said that the school's enrolment level did not warrant such a centre. Malvern's 693 enrolled students makes such a claim untenable. Second, the department said that as the project was to be on land that was administered in part by Stonnington council, the planning process would take too long due to community consultation requirements.
This claim has no basis. The mayor of Stonnington council, Cr Claude Ullin, has confirmed to me that not only has the department not even approached him in relation to a proposed redevelopment of Malvern primary but the mayor would be pleased to support and facilitate such a project.
So the two reasons provided to the Malvern primary community for refusing the school funding do not hold water.
The parents of Malvern primary who have approached me are very concerned that some or all of the $3 million funding allocated under the BER program will be siphoned away by the Brumby government instead of it renewing the school.
While the results of the third round of funding applications for major refurbishments under BER have yet to be finalised, the treatment of the Malvern primary community to date gives every reason for the parents to fear that their children's school will miss out -- and miss out badly.
I ask the minister to review her department's actions concerning Malvern Primary School's applications under the Building Education Revolution program to ensure that the full $3 million funding is made available to the school so that it can continue to provide quality education for the students of Malvern for the next 125 years.