From little things …
Two small schools have big plans for Kevin Rudd’s infrastructure money, writes Joshua Maule.
When the Federal Government announced in February it would pump more than $14 billion into Australian schools over the next three financial years, one Sydney principal had his submission ready to send.
The headmaster of Arkana College in Kingsgrove, Osman Karolia, started planning a school facelift last year. It was to be phased in over seven years until, with “disbelief and deep gratitude”, he heard about the infrastructure grants. The improvements may now be built as soon as next year.
“We do lack much of what I’d call the basics,” Karolia says. “I’ve come to this school after many years of working in much larger, very formal schools and I feel it’s in the school’s interest for me to do something to get things up to what is expected of a modern Australian school.”
On behalf of the Islamic primary school of 166 students, Karolia has applied for two grants under the Building the Education Revolution (BER) scheme. One is for $2million and would fund a small, multi-purpose hall; the other is for $125,000 and would allow the school to replace old demountables with fixed classrooms. It will be the school’s first upgrade in more than a decade and Karolia says it’s very welcome.
“I think it’s just a tremendous reflection on Australian society that whether you’re a government or independent school regardless of your denomination that our society and its institutions and its government support the education of all students,” he says.
Similarly pleased with the infrastructure grants is the Giant Steps School for children with autism. The school relies on fund-raising and donations (no student fees are charged) and the administrative director, Claire Allen, says everyone is “absolutely delighted”.
Operating on the old Gladesville Hospital site, Allen says some facilities are in good condition while others need some work.
“We have had government support in the past under the Block Grant Authority and that’s how we’ve managed to renovate certain areas of the school,” Allen says. “This year, however, we didn’t think we’d have any money at all for capital works. So for us it’s absolutely fantastic.”
Giant Steps has applied for $75,000 to help with classroom renovations and painting and an additional $850,000 for capital works projects. Some of the money would fund early learning classrooms while some would go to building a multi-purpose hall.
“[A hall] will give us a wonderful space that can be used for [big] events; something we haven’t been able to do up until now,” she says.