Ceiling collapse at college

Member for Gembrook Brad Battin, Emerald Secondary College principal Jodie Doble and Shadow Minister for Education Tim Smith.

By Rowan Forster

Department of Education bureaucrats have been chastised in parliament for “neglecting” Emerald Secondary College, which is reportedly in dire need of additional funding.

According to Gembrook MP Brad Battin, part of the school’s ceiling last week collapsed on top of students.

The latest incident comes just weeks after the Gazette revealed the college’s student aide positions have been slashed from 16 to four over a two year period.

During high rainfall events across Emerald, rain has also allegedly seeped into the current science facility – which is stocked with corrosive chemicals.

Mr Battin said the government has known about the facility’s issues for a long time, but has failed to act.

“I cannot believe that the Andrews government have absolutely failed in this Education State to put the funding forward for a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) centre at Emerald Secondary College,” he said.

“We have seen issues at that school that are beyond the scale of what we should have in any of our schools.

“The government needs to get in there and the school needs funding to be fixed.”

Parents of former pupils have also flagged problems with the school’s facilities – citing an urgent need for the State Government to bankroll a redevelopment.

Casey Newton, whose son attended the college in 2015, said the roof collapse came as no surprise.

“The school has been ageing for quite some time,” she said.

“It really needs some extra money put towards it to bring the facilities up to scratch with the student population.”

The school enrols approximately 870 students, making it one of the largest in the Cardinia region.

It comes in wake of a community campaign regarding Emerald Secondary College’s student aide positions, which have been slashed from 8.08 to 4.88 EFT in the span of two years.

An online petition – titled ‘reinstate our classroom support’ – has garnered more than 600 signatures in recent months.

Emerald Secondary College had also advised the Department of Education that a piece of plaster had fallen from the school’s ceiling during Term 1.A Department of Education spokeswoman said the school had already been provided $500,000 to address maintenance issues.She did not address questions from the Gazette regarding the roof collapse.

“The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority,” the spokeswoman said.“The Victorian Government has already provided $500,000 to Emerald Secondary College to address maintenance issues at the school including roof maintenance and upgrades to four classrooms.”

The $500,000 allocated for works by the Victorian Government will commence during the upcoming school holidays.

The Gazette reached out to principal Jodie Doble but did not receive a reply. 

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