Wodonga West under the wrecking ball in $3.8m lift

Wodonga West Primary School principal Jocelyn Owen holds an image of what the redeveloped school will look like. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

Wodonga West Primary School principal Jocelyn Owen holds an image of what the redeveloped school will look like. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

A WRECKING ball will run through most of Wodonga West Primary School after a $3.8 million upgrade was confirmed yesterday.

The original Lawrence Street school was built in 1958 out of light timber designed to last only 25 years and has been left in a state of disrepair.

But long-sought Victorian government funding, part of today’s state budget, will be made available for an upgrade after July 1.

Principal Jocelyn Owen said works to replace two of the school’s buildings would start as soon as possible afterwards, with a master plan already drawn up.

“It’s not that difficult to get the ball rolling,” she said.

“It’s a matter of getting it out to tender and getting a big black ball.”

Ms Owen said the promised money came after six years of “very strong lobbying” on behalf of the school’s leadership and council.

She said it would be used to build new classrooms, administration areas, toilets and an art and music precinct.

The school’s $3 million federally funded learning space, built as part of Labor’s Building the Education Revolution project in 2010, will remain.

“It’s certainly time to upgrade the facilities to be state-of-the-art and reflect the school’s modern teaching practices,” Ms Owen said.

Although the amount was less than the $6 million requested, she said she believed it would cover the entire upgrade

The school has the option to manage the project itself, have the government do it or to share the responsibility.

At this stage, Ms Owen said it was likely the school would take it on, a move that was praised by member for Benambra Bill Tilley.

Mr Tilley said this meant fewer administration costs, leading to less funding being required.

“We’ve empowered the school to make the decisions that are important,” he said.

“It saves the taxpayer money and means they can build a bigger, brighter school the way they want.”

Mr Tilley said parents had put children into more modern schools in recent years.

Wodonga West had gone from a peak enrolment of 700 students to less than 300 last year.

“This will see it back to what many remember as a great little school,” he said.

It would modernise facilities and ensure students had access to a high-quality learning environment.

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