Vasse MLA Libby Mettam airs grievance in Parliament over Cowaramup Primary School funding fail

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Vasse MLA Libby Mettam at Parliament.
Camera IconVasse MLA Libby Mettam at Parliament. Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam has taken her fight for greater investment in the ailing Cowaramup Primary School to Parliament, chastising the education minister for an underwhelming funding injection which barely meets the school’s needs.

The school, which falls within Ms Mettam’s electorate, was already squeezed for space because of rampant population growth, but as the Times recently reported, it had significant safety concerns with some classrooms and an overreliance on transportables which hadn’t been addressed since first identified in a 2016 audit.

While Margaret River-based South West Labor MLC Jackie Jarvis lauded a $60,000 offer earlier this month to address sagging ceilings in one classroom block, speaking in Parliament, Ms Mettam’s grievance motion outlined her view it was unacceptable so little had been done since 2016.

The commitment “falls well short of addressing the multitude of infrastructure concerns at the school,” she said.

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Cowaramup remained “neglected” and needed improvements and extensions to meeting growing needs, including in specialist learning areas, security, the library space, and administration.

About 50 per cent of classrooms were transportables, which clashed with State policy.

“It is a short-term bandaid measure that addresses only the most urgent safety concerns and does not provide for a long-term plan,” Ms Mettam said.

“This school is almost 100 years old. It is beyond time to bring it into the next century.”

The minister’s parliamentary secretary Terry Healy MLA, a former teacher, said all urgent “high risk” faults were already fixed.

“That does not mean that no more work needs to be done,” he said.

“There is always work to be done.”

He also noted the Liberals were in power when the 2016 audit highlighted its concerns, and went on to downplay enrolment pressures at the school.

“We are investing in the school,” Mr Healy said.

“We will not stop. We will always look after all the schools, no matter what electorate or community they are located in.”

Previously, a spokeswoman for the minister said the education department would be guided by its fresh audit of the school which could occur as soon as early next year.

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