THE Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien is spearheading a community campaign calling for the State Government to fund a rebuild of Foster Primary School.
Mr O’Brien was part of the campaign which resulted in the delivery of $4 million from the State Budget for a new Yarram Primary School. He said that the school community and wider Yarram population had worked tirelessly to ensure that their fight for a new school was front and centre of State Budget deliberations.
“This is a great outcome for Yarram and I am proud to have been part of this campaign,” Mr O’Brien said.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday October 12, Mr O’Brien said the current Foster Primary School, which was built in 1965, is in a poor state of repair and plans to rebuild must be included in next year’s budget.
“I visited the school for the first time last year and it was clear that this school needed to be on the list for an upgrade,” Mr O’Brien said.
Foster Primary School principal Lorraine Gurnett said that Foster and Yarram primary schools are of the same vintage and that she believes the Foster Primary School to be in a worse condition than that of its Yarram counterpart.
Mr O’Brien visited Foster PS again last week at the invitation of school council president Matt Wallis and with Mrs Gurnett examined the issues that are of most concern to the school community.
Mrs Gurnett described the school as old and dated, but explained that thanks to the regular maintenance that is carried out, it would appear at first glance to be holding its age well. She added, however, that there are many problems including leaking roofs, and a great deal of money is routinely spent on maintenance and resealing between the bricks – not just for aesthetic value, but also to ensure that the asbestos between them is safely contained.
Explaining that it has to be painted and sealed to be safe, Mrs Gurnett pointed out that this severely limits any works which need to be done – even very minor improvements which may involve cutting or drilling into the buildings.
Mrs Gurnett said that a full audit by the Department of Education would fully determine the condition of the school buildings.
“It’s hard to maintain – it’s an old building. It’s a great school with great people and we have to keep it going, but the buildings are outdated; they are old and it is costing too much money to continue indefinitely to keep them up to safety standards,” she said.
“There’s no doubt that the school is in need of a rebuild and I will now be campaigning with the local community to have funding included in next year’s State Budget,” said Mr O’Brien.
“From what I have seen of schools in my electorate – and there are about 45 – it is probably the primary school after Yarram that is in the poorest state of repair. It needs funding and the government should begin planning for that now,” Mr O’Brien said.