$24m Budget boost for schools

Emerson School principal John Mooney , Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams, Lynn Carland and David Walsh. 221758_06 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A stunning $14 million announcement was greeted with euphoric cheers across Emerson School.

Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams got on the school’s PA to announce the State Budget funding for the school’s long-overdue major upgrade on Friday 20 November.

The funding for a new office, learning areas and library is the Heatherton Road campus’s first major infrastructure since it opened in 1973.

It comes on top of a recent $1.56 million to plan the school’s masterplan.

“There’s been a vision for the future that we’ve always had,” principal John Mooney said.

“Now we can make it a reality.”

Emerson School is one of three schools in the region sharing more than $24 million in upgrades in a big-spending Victorian Budget on 24 November.

Carwatha P-12 College has been granted $4.214 million to upgrade its VCE Centre, Building F and soccer field.

Kingswood Primary School in Dingley Village meanwhile gets a $6.249 million upgrade.

Emerson School had well outgrown its 47-year-old campus, resorting to teach students in foyers and some of the oldest portables in Victoria.

It was using nine shipping containers for storage.

Mr Mooney said the school has a four-year, $49 million “vision” to upgrade the campus.

Building for stage one was hoped to start in mid-2021.

The school is raising funds for stage two – a gymnasium so Physical Education classes are no longer held in rain.

Emerson School is also lobbying for a pedestrian crossing and traffic lights on Heatherton Road.

It is the only Melbourne metropolitan school without a pedestrian crossing or traffic light management, Ms Norman said.

Mr Mooney was hopeful that the dangerous situation would soon be rectified – at about the same time as the school’s upgrade commenced.

Dandenong MP Gabrielle Williams is advocating to the Minister for Roads and Road Safety Jaala Pulford for funding.

The project was a “high priority” for Ms Williams, she said.

Across Victoria, the State Government has started a $7.2 billion school building blitz across 1460 Victorian campuses.

It will create 7500 local jobs, the State Government says.

In recent months, St Mary’s Primary School in Dandenong received $2 million for an upgrade.

A builder has been appointed to create the new Endeavour Hills Specialist School set to open in 2022.

Dandenong West Primary School’s $5.2 million upgrade was also recently completed.

Education James Merlino said the program was an “investment in our kids and their future”.

“Because every child, no matter where they go to school, deserves access to state-of-the-art facilities.

“Schools are the heart of our communities, so it makes sense that we’re investing in upgrades to support local jobs to drive our economic recovery.”