Twenty-two years after the Kennett government closed Richmond High, Labor has announced it would build a new school if elected.
For Justin Naylor, who joking refers to himself as the convenor/last man standing of the lobby group Richmond High School Choices, the announcement was “quite unbelievable and surreal”.
Richmond High School Choices was formed in 2006 to fight for a local state school that boys could attend.
While Melbourne Girls’ College had opened on the old Richmond High site two years after it closed, boys in the area are forced to travel to Auburn High in Hawthorn, Collingwood College or Kew High.
Mr Naylor, who has two sons at Richmond Primary, admits he had “probably given up hope” of a new school in Richmond and was campaigning for a bus to take Richmond students to Auburn High.
“It is very encouraging for local parents from around Victoria to see that a major party can make a pre-election commitment in a non-marginal seat,” he said.
Opposition leader Daniel Andrews said Labor would commit $10 million for the first stage of the co-ed school, which would accommodate about 650 students.
The school will be built on the old Richmond Technical School site, behind Richmond Town Hall, which is currently being used as a car park.
Planning would begin in 2015 with construction to start as soon as possible.
Local MP Richard Wynne said the City of Yarra’s demographic projections predicted a massive population increase in Richmond and Burnley, with couples no longer moving out of the area when they had children.
“The best example is Richmond Primary, which 10 years ago had 90 students. Now it is capped at 350 and can’t take another kid.”
The announcement comes as parents across Melbourne’s inner suburbs lobby for state high schools in their areas.
The Kennett government shut down more than 350 schools, many in inner-city areas that have since seen demographic change.
Richmond High was closed in 1992, with the site used to establish Melbourne Girls’ College two years later.
However, boys in the area must travel to Auburn High School in Hawthorn, Kew High or Collingwood College if they wish to attend a state school.
In April this year, the Victorian government committed $20 million to build a new secondary school in Prahran.
Premier Denis Napthine said the number of local primary-aged students was expected to grow by 22 per cent by 2019.
Prahran High School closed in the 1990s and the site is now the Orrong Romanis Park.
Next year Coburg High School will open its doors to Year 7 to 9 students for the first time, after a long community campaign.
The Sky High group is also lobbying for a high school in Melbourne’s inner west.
AUGUST 4 2014
Labor promises new high school for Richmond
Jewel Topsfield and Henrietta Cook | TheAge