Concern that deteriorating pipes make school unsafe

Winchelsea Primary School pupils Sam Phelps, Jett Price, Charlie Phelps, Eve Mawson and Sammi Kuchenmeister regularly face the prospect of being drenched due to the school’s ageing gutters.

Winchelsea Primary School pupils Sam Phelps, Jett Price, Charlie Phelps, Eve Mawson and Sammi Kuchenmeister regularly face the prospect of being drenched due to the school’s ageing gutters.

A MOTHER of three Winchelsea Primary School pupils fears for their safety as the school’s gutters and downpipes lie in disrepair.

Rochelle O’Mara said gutters around the school had been flapping in the wind and had holes big enough for students to put their hands in.

The school has removed half of the gutters and downpipes from its ageing buildings as a safety hazard.

The remaining gutters and downpipes are quickly deteriorating.

“We’ve had to put gaffer tape on them to stop it, it’s just horrible,” Ms O’Mara said.

Ms O’Mara has children in grades six, four and one.

She is also the secretary of the school council and teaches performing arts and kitchen garden classes part time.

The school this month missed out on funding in the State Government’s $27-million maintenance funding for school buildings.

“As a school council we’re disgusted, as a parent I’m disgusted, and as a teacher I’m disgusted,” Ms O’Mara said.

“To provide an unsafe environment for the children to learn in is just not fair on them and it’s uncomfortable for the kids because they get wet. It doesn’t lead to good learning in any way.”

Ms O’Mara said the school council had been unsuccessfully applying for government funding to repair the gutters and downpipes since 2011.

The last quote they received for the work was valued at $30,000.

“Gutters are a necessity for the safety of the school and it’s causing the school to get in even more disrepair,” Ms O’Mara said.

“It’s basic maintenance, it should be done by the government, we shouldn’t have to fundraise to get gutters for our school.

“We’re happy to fundraise for fabulous new playground equipment; but basic maintenance is not something we see that should be done by school council.”

Principal Karen Parker said a pupil had cut their finger on one of the pipes. The injury forced the school to remove pipes.

“Just this morning one of the kids came to me and said one of the downpipes was flapping in the wind,” she said.

“Half the buildings are without gutters and downpipes, and if they’re there, they’re just hanging in there.

“Everyone is over it, the school council are angry that we have to go to these lengths to get what we think is a basic commodity in a school.”

Mrs Parker has contacted the office of Education Minister James Merlino to discuss the issue and further appeal for funding.

A spokeswoman for Mr Merlino said the minister was aware of the school’s concerns.

“Winchelsea Primary, like all Victorian government schools, received annual funding for maintenance and upkeep of school buildings and facilities,” the spokeswoman said.

“Additional funding requirements will be considered as part of future budget deliberations.

“Minister Merlino intends to visit Winchelsea Primary School over coming months to meet the principal and discuss these concerns further.”

This website provides a small taste of the variety of articles in the Colac Herald’s print editions. Buy the latest Colac Herald print edition for full news and sport coverage. The Herald is available at more than 50 outlets across the region.

Comments are closed.