District high schools get funds cut

28 Jun, 2014 02:00 AM
WA Labor Member for the Agricultural Region Darren West said the cuts to district high school upgrade funding will hit regional WA schools.
My message is simple, give the money back
WA Labor Member for the Agricultural Region Darren West said the cuts to district high school upgrade funding will hit regional WA schools.

STATE Government funding to district high schools has been axed, according to WA Labor members.

WA Labor vowed to fight the State Liberal/National Government's "broken promise to a number of district high schools".

In a Budget Estimates hearing on June 12, it was revealed $19.25 million in funding promised in November 2012 to district high schools (DHS) in regional schools such as Gingin, Toodyay, York, Boddington, Wyndham and Yanchep had been axed.

Jurien Bay DHS had its allocation cut by $1 million.

WA Labor Member for the Agricultural Region Darren West described the cuts as cruel and "yet another Liberal National broken promise".

Mr West told Farm Weekly hundreds of thousands of dollars had already been spent on planning and design of the upgrades at some schools.

"My message is simple, give the money back," Mr West said.

"Regional WA schools have already suffered cuts of around $340 per primary and $425 per secondary student.

"Enough is enough, education is an investment and not a cost."

But Education Minister Peter Collier said funding had been reduced, but not all schools will miss out.

"The 2013-14 Budget focused on savings and reform initiatives and in order to deliver the State Government's priorities and financial management objectives, there was a review of major infrastructure projects and the State's Asset Investment Program," Mr Collier said.

"As a result of this, there was a $19.5m reduction in funding for the district high school upgrade program and a re-prioritisation of projects."

Labor believes cuts to DHS funding includes:

p $3m from Gingin DHS for a home economics upgrade, change rooms and an arts space and media studio

p $1.5m from Boddington DHS for an arts space and media studio

p $750,000 from York DHS for a workshop fit out and arts space

p $500,000 from Toodyay for performing arts area

p $2m from Wyndham DHS for a science lab, home economics room and technology systems

p $10.5 from Yanchep DHS for science labs, workshops, arts facilities and change rooms and toilets;

p $1m from Jurien Bay DHS for performing arts centre.

Mr Collier said the vast majority of schools identified for funding would continue to see capital works upgrades, though 21 schools, including Jurien Bay, would see the scope of works reduced.

"Capital works originally planned at six schools, will be considered as part of future budget processes," Mr Collier said.

"Wyndham DHS will be getting a new transportable design and technology classroom by the end of 2014.

"In addition, $600,000 has been allocated to Wyndham for a toilet upgrade this project is at the planning stage.''

Mr Collier said the changes to the upgrade program needed to be seen in the context of a $1.16 billion education capital works program by the State Government over the next four years.

"This will see 16 new public primary schools and three new public secondary schools open in the next four years," Mr Collier said.

However, Mr West said the Government should reinstate funding it promised and show some commitment to regional education.

"Funding for education is core government business and these upgrades were urgently needed in order to give our kids facilities comparable to those in the city," Mr West said.



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