Wonthaggi school wants end to funding inequality

A growing population is causing concern for residents in Bass Coast with one principal claiming students are getting a bad deal in regards to education funding, reports Holly Parker.

Local MP, Brian Paynter, has invited Education Minister James Merlino to visit Wonthaggi Secondary College due to a need for improved education facilities in Bass Coast.

“My question to James Merlino is, last night you said the best you can do for a school before any commitment is to go and visit the school,” said Paynter.

“So I asked him to visit the school, with me, before the end of the year, as a first step to remaking a commitment to the school.”

Wonthaggi Secondary College has confirmed that a visit from Merlino is scheduled for October 14.

College Principal Gary Dennis said, “people in Wonthaggi really deserve a better deal than what they’re getting.”

Dennis said the campus was “not up to scratch” as it was too small to enable future growth and lacked modern facilities.

“The school’s full of asbestos, so it’s very hard to do alterations. There’s substantial problems with the roof on one of the new buildings,” said Paynter.

Dennis is concerned with the disadvantages faced by students in Bass Coast compared to those in other communities.

“What we’ve got isn’t up to scratch, and doesn’t match up with what happens in other communities,” he said. “What we’d like is what other people are getting. We want a better deal.”

There are also concerns about the Bass Coast’s spike in population, with an increase from 26,941 in 2006 to 30,233 in 2011, according to the census.

“The disadvantage will become more pronounced in the future, as our numbers continue to grow and as we have simply no more room to put classrooms on the site,” said Dennis.

Before the 2014 election the then-Coalition Government pledged $21 million towards the building of a new senior campus on a potential education precinct site.

The education precinct would also allow access for adults wishing to further their education through tertiary or trade studies.

Paynter says that the development of Wonthaggi Secondary College into a larger education precinct will provide “huge benefits for not only the education system, but for us as a community.

“The students at Wonthaggi are getting a quality education now, but we can do so much more.”