The Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell says it is time for the Minister for Education James Merlino to come clean with the Greater Shepparton community and reveal how long the transition phase for students will be and in which year the proposed new school buildings will open.
Up until recently, Mr Merlino, Department of Education staff and documents outlying the transition phase have given every indication that the new one-campus secondary school to be built on the current Shepparton High School site will be opened for the start of the 2022 school year.
However Ms Lovell said that recent statements by the Minister and others have indicated that the transition to the new school may be several years away, meaning the disruption for students may continue for much longer than two years.
“The first sign that this school would not open in 2022 was when the Minister published a press release on the 28th August that named all new schools to open in 2022 and Greater Shepparton College was not amongst them,” Ms Lovell said.
In response to Shepparton being left of the list of schools to open in 2022 Ms Lovell asked the Minister via a constituency question in what year Shepparton’s new school would be complete and operational.
“Mr Merlino’s response to my question failed to put a timeline on the completion of the school and he did not dispute that it would not be completed by 2022; he merely stated that the transition would take time,” Ms Lovell said.
“The Minister also recently conducted a radio interview with ABC Ballarat where he said the students will be in their current facilities for a few years.”
Further evidence of a prolonged transition period came yesterday via a letter to the Editor in the Shepparton News (Support for super school – Shepparton News 18 Sept 2019), when two leaders from La Trobe University and GOTAFE stated the transition arrangements will be in place for several years.
Ms Lovell says the 2022 timeline is now in doubt and called on Mr Merlino to be open and honest with the Greater Shepparton community by providing a definitive date the new school buildings will be operational.
“Everyone welcomes increased investment in education for Greater Shepparton students but we need to make sure that it is the right investment and that proper community consultation takes place so we achieve the best outcome for our children,” Ms Lovell said.
“I call on the Minister to heed the wishes of the community and pause the transition plans to allow for further consultation to identify the best path forward for the Shepparton Education Plan.”
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