Funds. Following on from the allocation of $7 million to Smithton High School during the state government’s 2015/16 Budget, the school will undergo extensive renovations this year.
After securing the funding in July, a first-draft design by Philp Lighton Architects was received in September.
The design will see a number of changes, which include the library being relocated to the current grade eight area; the science lab relocated to room 16; and grade eight, nine and 10 classes ‘zigzagging’ through the adjoining hallway between the front office and gymnasium.
“The school will effectively shift towards Montagu Road and the gymnasium,” principal Keith Billing said. “It will sort of zigzag.”
Tenders closed last Monday, with works beginning in early March and expected to take approximately 18 months to complete.
As a result, grade nine and 10 classes have been shifted to Southside where they started the school year and will remain until the renovations are done, while one grade eight class has moved upstairs and the remaining two have been relocated to the MDT theory area and the old teachers’ staffroom.
“Southside is very busy, but it’s worked well during the last week,” Mr Billing said.
While the move has not impacted learning opportunities, Mr Billing held fears that increased use of the Montagu Road traffic lights may pose a safety issue.
“My main concern is that every recess and lunch we have half the school crossing the road to access the canteen.
“We have spoken to the students and asked them to be courteous to drivers and I ask the same of motorists – to be patient.”
So far the principal of two years has been pleased with students’ responsible behaviour but urged the community to alert the front office should they witness improper conduct.
With approximately 245 students from grades seven to 10 currently enrolled and 40 students in grade 11 and 12 at the Trade Training Centre campuses, Mr Billing said the renovations will meet modern demands, including allocating four classrooms to each grade despite only three rooms currently used full time.
“We once catered for 600 students and Southside originally housed up to 300 primary students, so the idea is to shrink the size of the school and provide updated modern facilities that are easier to maintain.”
He said the availability of Southside has been beneficial, “because we have the option to relocate, we can allocate the entire $7 million to the rebuild rather than using terrapins to house everybody.”
With no strict timeframes in place until contractors are confirmed, stage one will include the relocation of the library which is expected to be completed by the beginning of term three.