Repair our school

CONCERNED: Nuriootpa High School principal Neil White - with Year 12 students Calvin Canute, Sophie Watson and Emily Hicks - says their buildings urgently need replacing.
CONCERNED: Nuriootpa High School principal Neil White - with Year 12 students Calvin Canute, Sophie Watson and Emily Hicks - says their buildings urgently need replacing.

AGEING buildings at Nuriootpa High School are in urgent need of repair – or replacement – to cope with the increasing demand of student enrolments, according to principal Neil White.  

Enrolments have jumped from around 900 in 2013 to almost 1000 this year, and the school is now turning to the state government to replace its 16 dilapidated transportable buildings. 

The ailing buildings – which are believed to be around 60 years old – have cracks in the walls and ceilings, brown water damage and cost around $125,000 to maintain annually, according to Mr White.   

“We’ve got some fantastic facilities and many of the existing solid structure buildings are good, but we also have a number of transportable buildings that really are out-of-date,” he said. 

“They are hard to heat and cool, and expensive to maintain, so we’d really like to see some improvement to our teaching facilities.

“(But) our school enrolments are up from last year, so that’s a really positive sign for the school and the community.”

Mr White said the buildings were intended to be used as temporary classrooms, until the government found an alternative, permanent solution.

“The Barossa is a growing area and we think schools are a really important part of our community. Our students deserve the best facilities to get the best education they can have, so we’ll keep pushing for upgraded facilities. 

“Ideally, we’d like to see all of our temporary transportable classrooms removed and replaced with solid and permanent structures that are contemporary in design, more efficient to heat and cool, and more comfortable and conducive to 2016 education.”

The school’s staff members voiced their concerns to Education and Child Development Minister Susan Close, who visited the school during the Country Cabinet visit to the region late last year.

“One of the discussion points we had was about the ageing state of some of our temporary buildings, that have seemed to become permanent,” Mr White said. 

“We’re increasing in numbers, so it’s timely to have improvements done here.”

Last Wednesday, the state government responded to an issues paper that details the topics raised during the meeting, however Schubert MP Stephan Knoll said the government failed to consider Nuriootpa High School’s ageing infrastructure. 

“It’s a great school, but it’s out of room and it should be a top priority to rebuild the education facility in the area,” he said.

“In terms of public education, it’s either Mannum High School or Gawler High School, so it is the only public high school in the district.”

The Barossa Herald contacted Ms Close for comment, however she failed to respond before publication. 

Mr White said it was “disappointing” the state government failed to acknowledge the school’s plight, or offer any solutions to the situation.    

“We thought we put a reasonably strong case to say that it’s something that needs to be considered,” he said.

“It is disappointing when the response of the recent Community Cabinet didn’t recognise the issue we have here.

“I’ve met with the DECD facilities manager and they’ve been to our site, so they are certainly aware of the situation.”