Old school’s fresh future

NOT much has changed inside the Merri Kindergarten over three generations. 

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine joins in the fun with Merri Kindergarten children (from left) Rex Harris, Max Gleeson, Ben Murray, Zane McKean and Lilly McDowall after yesterday’s refurbishment funding announcement.

Victorian Premier Denis Napthine joins in the fun with Merri Kindergarten children (from left) Rex Harris, Max Gleeson, Ben Murray, Zane McKean and Lilly McDowall after yesterday’s refurbishment funding announcement.

That was until yesterday when the Victorian Premier walked into the playground with $350,000 in his pocket.

It wasn’t just children swinging on play equipment who were excited.

Most of Moyne Shire Council and more than a dozen parents waited for South West Coast MP Denis Napthine to arrive at the Purnim kindergarten. 

Committee member and former president Sally Harris has spent five years trying to get the site modernised. 

Yesterday she got her wish. 

“They’re going to build a whole new playroom and keep the existing room as community space. They’re even looking at maternal and childcare nurses,” Ms Harris said. 

“It’s going to create a community hub.”

The wooden building was once the district school.

“My mother-in-law went here 50 years ago and said not much has changed,” Ms Harris said. 

“It’s all pretty tired. There’s not enough storage for the teachers. 

“The office doesn’t meet requirements.”

The extension will allow an extra 32 places at the kindergarten, lifting the overall intake to 88. 

“We’ve seen in this area significant growth in the area, particularly in Bushfield and Purnim opening up a lot with residential areas,” Dr Napthine told The Standard.

“There’s demand for additional space but a lot of the conditions here don’t comply with modern childcare standards. 

“It’s a very old schoolhouse but it’s been maintained magnificently.”

The upgrade will also see new kitchens and bathrooms added to the building. 

Moyne Shire is also spending $200,000 on the upgrade. 

Chief executive David Madden said the project would go to tender with construction anticipated to start later this year. 

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