STATE Labor is ramping up its election run, with promises of school funding if re-elected.
Bendigo East MP Jacinta Allan this week announced Labor would invest $4.6 million to transform old classrooms and facilities at White Hills Primary School to bring students and staff into the modern learning environment.
“We’ve already funded planning and design work for a major upgrade at White Hills Primary School but there’s more to do,” Ms Allan said.
Two days later, she was at Eppalock Primary school announcing $129,000 of funding accessed from the education department’s budget at short notice to pay for works including new security fencing and the removal of a disused toilet block.
But political opponents are asking for a more strategic approach to funding, saying many schools are at capacity and planning should already be under way to build new facilities.
“There is a strong argument that population growth north of Bendigo could justifying building a new school,” Liberals candidate for Bendigo East, Ian Ellis said.
“Labor are announcing a lot of funding at the moment but why not when it is needed.”
Nationals candidate Gaelle Broad said she worried regional Victoria was being left behind.
“In the last sprint to the election, (Labor) are making all these promises,” she said.
“But my overall concern has been the failure to give long term consideration to the state of all of Victoria’s education system.”
Ms Broad said she was interested in looking at policy for education in all of regional Victoria, rather than adopting a piecemeal approach.
Ms Allan said it was important to upgrade schools when they needed it.
She said she visited the Eppalock school last month where she was told about the need to create room at the small school.
After talking about the school to the education minister James Merlino, the funding became available from the education department’s overall budget.
Ms Allan was able to ensure the funds were available to the school right away so they could the work done.
“This is funding that has been made available immediately so the school can get on and do these important works making the school grounds more safe for the young students,” she said.
“By removing these old toilet facilities, it’s going to provide more space. I know the school has got some great ideas about what they want to do.”
At White Hills, Ms Allan said the school had already been given funding to develop a masterplan and $4.6m would build the first stage.