News

School of thought

By Benalla Ensign

The closure of Benalla P-12 College’s Barkly St campus has prompted State member for Euroa Steph Ryan to call for community consultation about the future of the site.

Ms Ryan has warned the Andrews Government against disposing of the old school site without consulting with the Benalla community.

“The Barkly St campus is a large space and it’s located in a prime area of Benalla,” Ms Ryan said.

“I know a number of people and groups within the wider Benalla community have ideas and I think it is important that the community gets to have a say.

“There are a number of perfectly good buildings on the site and we should be deciding as a community how they can be used for the good of our town.

“Some of the ideas already proposed include an artists’ and permaculture hub and a tech school.”

While the Benalla Flexible Learning Centre will remain at its current home, Benalla College students previously studying at Barkly St moved to the school’s Faithful St campus at the end of November.

Ms Ryan said she had raised the need for a community discussion about the future of the site with the Andrews Government and the Department of Education.

“The Department of Education has advised that it will carry out a demographic assessment to determine what the site will be used for in the future.’’

Ms Ryan said she was concerned that without a constructive plan, the buildings would be left to deteriorate.

“I think this process is important because without it, it is likely the buildings will either be sold off to the highest bidder or left to rot,” Ms Ryan said.

“We saw this happen in Seymour when the old Seymour East Primary School site was left abandoned for a number of years with no plan.

“The buildings became a hot spot for squatters, vandalism, drug use and other anti-social behaviour, including a fire which further destroyed the already dilapidated buildings.

“I do not want to see that happen to the Barkly St campus. We need a discussion to determine — as a community — the best use of the site.”