Fears for Willyama’s future

Willyama High School

Concern about the state of Willyama High School and its future continues to grow after mould was detected in several buildings at the school early last month due to the severe heat and humidity over the school holidays, with the threat of demolition a worst-case outcome.

Six trucks carrying demountables are on their way from Sydney to be set up at Broken Hill High School ahead of Term 2.

Mayor Tom Kennedy has raised the concerns of locals who he says fear the school may be demolished and even that a new Willyama could potentially replace Broken Hill High School.

“One of the concerns getting around at the moment is that people were very fearful that Willyama High School will close altogether, or they’ll build a new complex there that will then mean the closure of Broken Hill High School. They’re some of the things that are getting mentioned,” Mayor Kennedy said.

Earlier this week, following analysis from an independent hygienist who confirmed that remediation works would be extensive, alternative learning arrangements were made for students at WHS High ahead of the start date for Term 1, with some cohorts placed between Broken Hill North Public School, Morgan Street Public School, and Broken Hill High School.

“I want to express my deep thanks to the Broken Hill community, teachers, and staff for the way they have come together to support Willyama High School,” Minister for Education and Early Learning, Prue Car, told us.

“Following the discovery of mould over the school holidays we have worked to ensure our students, teachers and staff are able to resume learning in a safe environment. We will continue to communicate with the Willyama High School community regularly and are working hard to minimise disruption.”

The Department of Education confirmed several options were being considered for WHS, though says a determination cannot be made until further works of the independent hygienist are completed and the scope of remediation is determined.

Mayor Kennedy says Council needs to advocate for the community in that if they hear any worries within the community, to make sure the state government and the Department of Education understands it.

“A lot of people believe that the state government would jump at the opportunity to only have one high school in Broken Hill. There would be significant savings in administration costs et cetera for the state government,” he says.

“People probably are rightfully concerned, so Council is making sure that we get a guarantee and a commitment from the state government that they’ll continue to maintain two high schools in Broken Hill. That’s one thing that can allay some of the anxieties people have.”

Council is also pushing the state government to subsidise tutoring for students, understand that the current situation will affect not only the education of the high schools, but primary schools as well, as they temporarily take in high school students.

“We’re really just saying give us some money for the community more or less and give us a commitment that you’re going to continue to fund and maintain two high schools,” Mr Kennedy said.

“That doesn’t fix the direct problem, which is the mould and the temporary closure of one of our schools but what it does do is means that we’re not going to end up worse off in the community because of it, by the closure of a school, or that students can’t get the level of education they would have got if they remained at Willyama High School where a lot of them have already been for five or six years.”

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