School funding delays ‘too long’

Brad Battin speaking with students from Emerald Secondary College. Picture: SUPPLIED

Works on designing Emerald Secondary College’s $5.576 million upgrade have officially begun, but critics say it’s taken far too long.

Labor Eastern Victoria MP Harriet Shing announced on Monday 11 January that Craig Tan Architects had been appointed to design the upgrade.

The school will be upgraded and modernised but the exact works aren’t yet fully known.

Ms Shing said the upgrades would ensure that the school’s facilities “better the efforts of students, staff and teachers”.

“Emerald Secondary is such a great school community with a reputation for achievement and inclusion,” she said.

“The appointment of the architect is another huge step forward in delivering a bright, modern and fit-for-purpose school for the Hills.”

Ms Shing added it had been a “privilege” to work alongside the school’s principal and the School Building Authority to deliver the funding.

In October 2020, the school secured a further $558,000 to plan for future upgrades.

“Planning for school upgrades in the future will provide a much-needed boost to our economy as we get on with the post pandemic recovery,” Education Minister James Merlino said at the time.

But the State Government’s planning has come under fire from Liberal Gembrook MP Brad Battin, who said the school had missed out on funding for too long.

“I support the work getting underway, but it is a shame the Labor party have taken so long to realise Emerald students deserve equal to the rest of Victoria,” Mr Battin said.

“Students in year 12 in 2021 have missed out on new upgrades at Emerald since the Labor Government cut the commitment made by the Liberal Party in 2014. They put politics ahead of students in Emerald and this year’s VCE class missed out.”

The school has long been caught in a political crossfire between both major parties.

In May 2019, Ms Shing said that “Brad Battin should be ashamed of himself for using this school and community as a political football” after the school missed out on funding in an earlier state budget.

“We are delivering the biggest school building boom in our state’s history, however we need to responsibly manage the needs of all of our schools. Emerald Secondary College will be considered as a part of future budgets,” she said at the time.