The Victorian Government will spend nearly $240 million buying land for 14 new schools in Melbourne’s growth areas.
The money will go towards purchasing primary and secondary school sites in booming corridors of the north, west and south-east.
The ABC’s Four Corners has reported Victoria will need an extra 220 schools by 2026.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced the $236.8 million commitment at John Henry Primary School in Pakenham, which opened last year and is already over capacity.
Land next door to the primary school will be purchased for a new secondary school.
Mr Andrews said funding for land purchases was about future-proofing for growth.
“Part of that — making sure that we stay ahead of growth, making sure we continue to invest in the best facilities in order to deliver the very best outcomes — is to make sure that not only do we have a large number of schools that are being built right now, but it’s also to set aside the land that we need for the future,” he said.
The Government is yet to make the purchases and has not announced funding for building on the sites, so it is not clear when the schools would open.
90,000 extra students expected by 2022
It typically takes two years for a school to design, fund and build a new school.
Mr Andrews was tight-lipped about funding in this year’s budget, but said it would be strong on education.
Education Minister James Merlino said it was part of the biggest school building program ever seen in Victoria.
“Ten new schools opened last year, 11 new schools this year, nine new schools next year, more new schools in 2020, and now we’re announcing a further 14 school sites right across Victoria,” he said.
Opposition calls for investment outside Melbourne
The Victorian Opposition said funding for new schools was welcome, but the Government should be focused on decentralisation instead of building in already-booming suburbs.
The City of Casey, in Melbourne’s south-east, is expected to grow to more than 500,000 people by 2041.
Whittlesea in the north will boom from 220,000 to 380,000, while Melton in the west will more than double from 150,000 to nearly 400,000.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said his party was focused on encouraging growth outside the city.