Fund our col­lege

State gov­ern­ment “wants to get the job done” and fund Mans­field Sec­ondary Col­lege’s full re­de­vel­op­ment.

Mansfield Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By STEVE VI­VIAN

THE State Gov­ern­ment has sent its strong­est in­di­ca­tion yet that Mans­field Sec­ondary Col­lege (MSC) could re­ceive fund­ing to the tune of be­tween $4-5 mil­lion in next May’s state bud­get.

The gov­ern­ment has said it wants to get on with the job and fund the school’s Mas­ter Plan.

Last month MSC an­nounced it would ask the State Gov­ern­ment for be­tween $4-5 mil­lion to rec­tify what the school con­sid­ers are its most glar­ing is­sues.

The funds, if com­mit­ted to MSC, will pay for a new in­door gym­na­sium, a mod­ernised tech­nol­ogy and art space and ren­der the school’s ail­ing ‘B Block’ class­rooms ob­so­lete.

La­bor up­per house mem­ber Ja­clyn Symes (MLC, North­ern Vic­to­ria) last week told the Mans­field Courier that the State Gov­ern­ment “was not walk­ing away” from MSC, and would fund the school’s full re­de­vel­op­ment.

“We have a com­mit­ment to get the job done, and I’m com­mit­ted to mak­ing sure the community knows we won’t just move on from the ini­tial fund­ing,” Ms Symes said.

Declar­ing the some­times “tick box” ethos of the po­lit­i­cal fund­ing process which can lead to “half­baked” projects as a con­cern, Ms Symes re­it­er­ated her com­mit­ment to en­sur­ing MSC’s re­de­vel­op­ment is fully funded.

“I don’t like to op­er­ate in a sit­u­a­tion where schools are given ef­fec­tively hush money, and then we move onto the next one,” said Ms Symes.

“I want to make sure there’s a com­mit­ment from me that I haven’t put (Mans­field) in the done box.

“I haven’t moved on, I don’t want to half fin­ish an­other school, and I want to fin­ish Mans­field Sec­ondary Col­lege.”

Cindy McLeish (MLA, Eil­don) con­tin­ues to push strongly for the next phase of MSC’s re­de­vel­op­ment, and says get­ting it all done at the one time makes sense.

“B Block ab­so­lutely needs to be de-com­mis­sioned as soon as pos­si­ble,” said Ms McLeish.

“It is decades old and well past its use-by date.

“Mans­field is a great place to live, and to at­tract and re­tain fam­i­lies in the area we need to have qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties and that qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion with your pub­lic school.”

The po­lit­i­cal ef­forts of Ms Symes, Ms McLeish and the school could soon pay off.

Ms Symes, who ear­lier this month vis­ited MSC to dis­cuss how the school’s plans are pro­gress­ing, said she is working closely with the school to give it the best chance of re­ceiv­ing fund­ing as soon as pos­si­ble.

“I’m working with (MSC) on a plan to put the school in a good po­si­tion for ad­di­tional fund­ing in bud­get rounds,” said Ms Symes. “We had a good strat­egy meet­ing. “I’m re­ally im­pressed with the school, and it was fan­tas­tic that they had their school lead­ers in on the meet­ing.

“I had a very frank con­ver­sa­tion with them about how to best po­si­tion their ef­forts.”

The school, how­ever, is no monty to re­ceive fund­ing in next May’s state bud­get.

But Ms Symes said she is cur­rently try­ing to put MSC on the best path to do so.

“We have to try and work out whether we can be in a po­si­tion for a bud­get next year, or the fol­low­ing,” she said.

Ms Symes said the Mans­field community and MSC has done the best job pos­si­ble of lob­by­ing for the lo­cal community and its stu­dents.

“It’s ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic; one of the best things about MSC is the community con­nect­ed­ness of the school,” she said.

“We are re­ally con­scious of the school as a community as­set.

“The school is do­ing ev­ery­thing right, but we’ve just got to make sure that it’s bud­get ready.”

In the mean­time, MSC prin­ci­pal Tim Hall’s vi­sion to have “no fa­cil­i­ties left at the school that are sub-stan­dard” is gain­ing mo­men­tum.

“It’s not a mat­ter of if, it’s a mat­ter of when,” said Ms Symes.

“I think that as a La­bor gov­ern­ment we’ve sent a very strong mes­sage that we are in­vest­ing in your school, we’re in­ter­ested in your out­comes, we like what you’re do­ing, and we want to get the job done.”

SYMES SUP­PORT: La­bor up­per house mem­ber Ja­clyn Symes (MLC, North­ern Vic­to­ria) has sent pos­i­tive sig­nals in Mans­field Sec­ondary Col­lege’s di­rec­tion.

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