By Peter Douglas
Upwey High School and Monbulk College are the two major winners in this year’s budget, with both schools receiving multi-million-dollar funding for redevelopment projects.
Fresh off announcing the launch of the Yarra Ranges Tech School, Victorian Education Minister and Monbulk MP James Merlino travelled the hills on Wednesday 3 May to deliver the welcome news in person.
Upwey High School will receive $10 million to build four new competition-grade basketball courts, music and drama facilities, a new home for the Dandenong Ranges Music Council, and administration facilities.
Monbulk College will benefit from a $7.6 million funding boost, which will enable the school to build brand new classrooms, specialist spaces for information and communications technologies, and art and fabrics, as well the refurbishments of an administration building.
Mr Merlino told the ‘Mail’ this is a “big education budget”, with $675 million promised, with a further $10 million delivered for early childhood services.
“We need to accommodate 90,000 additional students over the next five years and there are real enrolment pressures,” Mr Merlino said.
“That’s why we need to build new schools and upgrade existing schools.
“It’s incredibly exciting for both Monbulk and Upwey High.”
Mr Merlino said the funds will transform Monbulk College.
“(Principal) Margaret (Uren) and I have been talking about this for quite some time,” he said.
“The development will include new general purpose classrooms for junior seven, eight and nine, and a specialist facility as well.
“It’s just a massive investment in secondary education in the hills.”
Meanwhile, Ms Uren said the funds will help keep the school up-to-date with modern teaching standards.
“The big benefit for us is we’ve got the ability to modernise what we have for our junior students,” she said.
“That’s significant for us because we’ve got them in old buildings, old-fashion classrooms; and while we’ve got the technology, it doesn’t work as effectively.
“So to be able to actually design spaces to match what we want to do is fantastic.”
At Upwey High School, Principal Tom Daly said the developments will not only help students, but the wider community, particularly local sporting clubs.
“Stage one will deliver us four courts, which is fantastic,” he said.
“We’ve got over 130 students in our volleyball program, let alone in our general sports program.
“There’ll be a new performing arts centre; a recording studio will be part of that and there will be offices for the Dandenong Ranges Music Council in that complex as well.”
Mr Daly said a new administration office will be built at the front of the school, with the present building located at the rear.
In other budget announcements, Yarra Ranges Special Development School has received a funding boost of $500,000, Lilydale Primary School $804,000, and Lilydale West Primary School more than $2.1 million to upgrade and modernise their facilities.
Funding will also go towards the Lilydale and Upper Yarra Secondary Schools Plan.
This will involve both master planning and a look into further provision across Lilydale High School, Lilydale Heights College and Upper Yarra Secondary College.