The communities of Cooma and Braidwood have had their first look at upgrades to Monaro High School and Braidwood Central School.
The new-look schools are part of the NSW Government’s budget to prioritising regional public schools as part of major upgrades across the Monaro.
There are also plans for further upgrades to schools in Bungendore, Googong, Jerrabomberra and Queanbeyan.
Plans for two new high schools in Jerrabomberra and Bungendore, along with a $23 million innovation precinct in Jerrabomberra, were announced in December last year.
Monaro High School principal James Armitage told Region Media the upgrades are long-overdue for public education in Cooma.
“A lot of the existing buildings are still here from the original Snowy Hydro era. Those buildings were established temporarily, but we still operate out of them,” Mr Armitage says.
“These upgrades have been in conversations for a number of years.”
Mr Armitage says one of the many benefits of the upgrades for the school’s 480 students is the capacity to deliver more appropriate patterns of learning, especially in vocational education pathways such as hospitality.
The upgrade at Monaro High School is for 31 innovative classrooms, including 11 specialised learning spaces for art, performance and technology.
The project will also include a new two-storey performing arts centre with capacity for up to 350 people, and health and physical education facilities.
There are also plans for a new semi-commercial kitchen and upgrades to the wood and metal workshops and staff facilities.
“The upgrades will really allow us to expand the opportunities to our students into the future and give them a better education,” Mr Armitage says.
He is also asking the community to be patient, with construction due to begin later this year.
“Things of this magnitude require a bit patience from the community and we’re working very closely with the staff to minimise the impact,” Mr Armitage says. “Obviously there is going to be an impact, but that is only in the short term for what will be a long-term benefit to the future of education in Cooma and the local community.”
Member for Monaro John Barilaro says he was excited to see the illustrations of the upgrades.
“We want our students to be inspired when they come to school and if these new images are anything to go by, Monaro High School will do just that,” Mr Barilaro says.
Braidwood Central School will receive eight new permanent flexible learning spaces and improved administration facilities, due for completion at the end of next year.
A development application has been submitted to the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council and a construction contract awarded.
The upgrades will involve removal of the existing demountable classrooms and replacement with permanent facilities such as a shared open learning area, an internal amphitheatre, improved music and drama rooms, a staff lounge, plus improved study areas for senior students and staff.
Mr Barilaro says the upgrades will deliver the high-quality school resources our students and teachers deserve.
“We want our children to have the best education possible and providing high-quality school facilities is a key part of that,” Mr Barilaro says.
The NSW Government is investing $6.7 billion over the next four years to deliver more than 190 new and upgraded schools, plus $1.3 billion on school maintenance over five years, along with $500 million for the sustainable Cooler Classrooms program.