As a new building at Benalla P-12 College nears completion, the fate of the school’s senior campus is set to again be an election issue.
Euroa MP and Nationals deputy leader Steph Ryan announced this week $10 million would be spent on replacing buildings if her party was elected in November.
“Under the former Coalition government in 2013, $5 million was allocated to start the rebuild, and we then went to the election with a $15 commitment that would have finished it off,” she said.
“Labor didn’t match that and the school has only received $3.5 million.
“There’s a lot of work to do, and I just don’t think it should be put off any longer.
“Twenty million was always a figure that was floated (for the rebuild) and with $8.5 million allocated, $10 million is a significant sum to really progress things.”
Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said she would work with the school on further works.
“It’s a school that needed a master-plan … at that time they (the Coalition) gave it $5 million and said ‘Do what you can to patch it up’,” she said.
“When I came into government at the end of 2014 and met with the school principal, she said, ‘I cannot spend this $5 million on buildings that are going to fall down’, and I agreed.
“I managed to get an additional $3.5 million in the budget, unshackle the $5 million for maintenance and put it into the one project.
“I have immense pride every time I see the senior building closer to completion.”
Ms Ryan said the $5 million was “never intended for maintenance”.
“That was a requirement the education department tried to put on the school after the election,” she said.
“The school was brought together under the P-12 model back in 2007 and at the time they were promised a new school, and that just hasn’t happened under Labor.”
A new senior learning centre on Faithfull Street, which will be ready for the start of the 2019 school year, is included in the $8.5 million project in stage one of the school’s redevelopment.
Ms Symes was at her old school yesterday to announce $1.45 million for the Ovens Murray Workforce Development project, involving two North East employment networks.
Under the project, 26 Ovens Murray schools will add new segments to the curriculum that connect students to local employers and training providers.
“A project manager and two co-ordinators have been funded to facilitate the program,” she said.
“Mansfield College have got a strong history of this and it’s all been modelled off how they went about connecting with local industry and creating pathways for local jobs for kids.”