Hopes for Sale College funding in the budget

THERE are hopes money could be allocated for a Sale College amalgamation plan in Thursday’s state budget.

Visiting Sale last week, Parliamentary Secretary for Schools Tim Richardson emphasised he didn’t have an announcement to make immediately, but said the need for a consolidation of the school’s two campuses was “considered” as part of the budget.

“We know the interest across the Sale region, across the Wellington Shire region, in the proposal at Sale College across the two campuses,” he said.

“We don’t have any announcements to make today but we know the interest in these two sites and the land in question there, and it will be considered as part of the budget process.”

Mr Richardson said the state’s $515 million school ‘maintenance blitz’ was addressing ageing facilities, but the “strategic future” of schools also had to be weighed up by government.

“Coming out of COVID and coming out of the impact over the last 12 months, it’s a great opportunity to get back to the Sale community to see what their needs are, to hear directly from principals like Chris Malone and educators in the region, and to understand their needs into the future,” he said.

Addressing whether he thought funding was being poured into metropolitan schools to the detriment of smaller regional schools, Mr Richardson said the government was investing in schools across the state, “no matter the postcode”.

“We’ve got 36,000 buildings that we support maintain and upgrade across our state,” he said.

“Just here in the Wellington Shire area, $20 million has gone into school facilities – that’s more than previous years before under previous governments.”

Recently, Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien said he would be fighting for a number of Gippsland projects to be included in the state budget, including planning money for a new single campus for Sale College.

Last year, the high school stepped up its campaign for a single campus, earmarking a greenfield site near the Gippsland Regional Sports Complex.

Wellington Shire Council wrote to Education Minister James Merlino asking for support to progress the proposal by commissioning and funding a feasibility study.

Sale College has more than 800 students, with year seven to nine students currently attending the junior campus on Guthridge Parade, and Years 10 to 12 on the senior campus at the corner of York and Macalister Sts.

The school is concerned it may struggle to cope with an increasing student population under current arrangements.

The two sites currently mean disruptions to students’ learning as they move between the campuses and administrative challenges, including doubling up of costs.

The location of the ageing senior campus in the Sale CBD has daily access to nearby fast food outlets, five licensed venues and bottle shops within a block, and carries the safety risk of being on a highway and having multiple points of entry.