PARENTS and teachers are overwhelmed after a surprise decision by the state government to finally rebuild crumbling classrooms at Timboon P-12 School.
Hundreds of students and staff broke into applause during a special assembly on the school yard yesterday where local Polwarth MP Terry Mulder broke the news.
More than a month out from the state budget, the Coalition has announced plans to spend $5.2 million on the school — parts of which have been closed down because of safety concerns.
Construction is expected to begin later this year.
Principal Rosalie Moorfield, who has fought hard for the redevelopment, struggled to hold back tears as she spoke to The Standard yesterday.
“When we became a P-12 school in 1995 we knew that we needed to have new buildings. Since 1995 the dream has been there, but serious lobbying has only been happening since 2010,” Ms Moorfield said.
“I want to thank all the staff for backing me. The school council have been fantastic and the parent lobby group.
“When you live in a town like Timboon it’s your community that gets you through.
“The parents and the community have really taken ownership of the push for new buildings, whether it be the Liberal Party members who have lobbied for us in the background or the Lions club or our school community parents, they worked very hard.”
The decrepit state of many classrooms was thrown into the spotlight in June last year when WorkSafe investigators closed down the school after finding asbestos. “The closure really brought to people’s attention that we really had serious issues here,” Ms Moorfield said.
Original plans for a new school drawn up three years ago were costed at $7 million.
The principal said those plans would be reassessed but added more money would be needed for stage two of the redevelopment.
“Stage two is more about the administrative side of the school and the upgrade of our heritage red-brick building.
“We’ll be pushing for construction as soon as we possibly can. It would be nice to have something start at the end of this year.”
She said 488 students are enrolled at the school, an increase on last year.
School council president Chris Hibburt said he was “relieved” by the news after years of being passed over in state budgets.
“We got to the point where we thought ‘what do we do? Do we drive tractors down Spring Street?’ We had all the designs and we knew what we wanted,” he said.
Sharon Mottram, who has two boys enrolled in grade 1 and grade 3 at the school, also helped lead a parents campaign.
“We’re ecstatic, it’s great, it’s what we were fighting for. It’s great for the school and great for the community,” she said.
Mr Mulder faced criticism following the closure in June, but told The Standard yesterday he had done all in his power to raise the school’s plight.
“I’m a minister but I’m also the local member of Parliament and I’ve gone and did everything I possibly could,” Mr Mulder said.
“It’s been a long campaign but it’s been delivered in our first term of government.
“It hasn’t been for lack of trying to make sure the school was in everyone’s sights.”
Mr Mulder said school leaders would sit down with the Department of Education and plan a starting date for works.
“It’ll depend on what the program is and tenders but as soon as possible.”