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Cleeland calls for Broadford Secondary funding

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By Colin MacGillivray

MEMBER for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland has called for the government to upgrade Broadford Secondary College and explore the possibility of a public secondary school in Kilmore, inviting Education Minister Natalie Hutchins to tour the region.

Ms Cleeland addressed parliament last month, outlining the pressure Mitchell Shire’s population growth was putting on local schools.

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“The Mitchell Shire is growing at a rapid rate with Broadford and Kilmore booming,” she said.

“Before the start of 2023, Broadford Secondary had to turn away several families due to the school being so close to capacity.”

According to Domain’s 2023 School Zones Report, Broadford Secondary College sits second, and Wallan Secondary College eighth when it comes to annual house price growth of the school catchment.

The report overlaid government school catchment zones with price property data, comparing the median sale price from August 2020 – July 2021 to prices from August 2019 – July 2020.

The annual change in the median house price within the Broadford school’s catchment was 15.9 per cent; while in the Wallan catchment it was 11.9 per cent.

Ms Cleeland said the government had refused to acknowledge the issue.

“In April last year the Minister for Education said the school is not currently experiencing enrolment pressure,” Ms Cleeland said.

“At the same time, neighbouring Kilmore does not have a public school – which was why The Nationals committed to both funding a business case for a new public school in Kilmore as well as $8 million towards upgrading Broadford Secondary College.”

Ms Cleeland said she wrote to Ms Hutchins in February, inviting her to inspect Broadford Secondary College.

She said she would attempt to facilitate a meeting with Ms Hutchins and the school to work towards a collaborative investment.

“The State Budget is creeping up in May and I’d love to see some money put aside to upgrade Broadford Secondary and bring the buildings into the 21st century,” she said.

“I’d be very pleased if the minister accepted my invitation and came up the Hume to understand why this funding needs to happen sooner rather than later.”

A Department of Education spokesperson said government policy was that every student was ensured a place at their locally-zoned public high school, but acceptances for enrolments from outside the school zone depended on school capacity.

The spokesperson said all locally-zoned students had been offered a place at Broadford Secondary College in 2023, but a small number of out-of-zone enrolments were not accepted.

Ms Hutchins said the department regularly reviewed enrolment projections for the Broadford area and $4 million of upgrades were carried out to replace the school’s main building in 2019.

“We’re proud to have recently delivered more than $4 million to Broadford Secondary College for new classrooms, a new literary centre and to upgrade their library and sporting facilities, ensuring local students have the resources and infrastructure they need for the great educational outcomes they deserve,” she said.

“The department continues to work with the school to plan for future needs.”

Ms Cleeland said while she welcomed a recent State Government commitment to upgrade Broadford Primary School, secondary schooling options in the Broadford and Kilmore areas were under stress, especially after the closure of Colmont School, formerly The Kilmore International School.

“[Broadford Secondary] College simply can’t be left to deteriorate,” she said.

“Our investment would have seen portables converted into real buildings, upgrades to sporting infrastructure and an expansion in school capacity.

“Kids in our region shouldn’t have to settle for second best just because they’re 20 minutes north of Wallan.

“The government needs to … provide the facilities the staff, students and community of Broadford deserve.”students and community of Broadford deserve.”

Watch Ms Cleeland address parliament.

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