Changing Shapes

Changing Shapes

Thursday, 14 July 2016  | Gerry - Administration Manager
a space to work
a place to learn
relaxed, attentive
unsettled, relaxed
loud laughter
soft chatter
awaiting beginnings
brightness banished
silence welcomed
we sit, we wait, we watch
and then
the lights awaken
energy, sounds rise
rearranged until
the evidence of difference is lost

by Georgia, when she was age 15 from Transformational Education p.85

Late in Term 2 it struck me that the spaces and places our community lives and learns in are changing shape for the better. That’s why I couldn’t resist including Georgia’s poem from the Meaningful Structures chapter from our Transformational Education book.

The first change is actually taking place outside the school gate. It all began more than three years ago when I participated in a Yarra Ranges Council York Road Pedestrian Safety project (they never did come up with an acronym for that). That project identified that more than 21,000 cars travel on York Rd each weekday and that there was indeed a need for a much improved pedestrian crossing. Fast forward to a little over a month ago when Shaun L, member for Eastern Metropolitan Victoria, came to the school crossing on York Road and announced on behalf of our local member James Merlino that a $490,000 upgrade to the school crossing has been approved. By mid-2017 we will see functioning pedestrian operated traffic lights. This is great news! The changes will make the busy crossing a safer place for our students, the crossing supervisors and the workers from the Yarra View Nursery (most of whom are disabled). It was beautiful to see Karen D from the nursery with tears in her eyes at this news (she has been a tireless campaigner for justice for people with a disability).

The other planned outcome from the pedestrian safety project was the need for supervised crossings on Hawkins Rd and the York Rd service road. If you drive to school you will see that these crossing points have now been completed. This gives us significant increase in safety for our students as even with teacher supervision these road crossings presented a real risk to those who walk or catch a public bus to and from school.

Changing our physical learning spaces takes lots of hard work and lots of money. The hard work remains, but the money side looks like it is becoming a little easier. At the start of June we received the fabulous news that the Victorian Block Grant Authority has provisionally recommended MECS to receive a $770,000 capital grant from the Commonwealth Government toward the project to expand four middle school classrooms and add to our primary classrooms. That grant will provide about 45% of the value of the works, the rest will come from borrowing.

This most excellent news takes us on a most excellent adventure. The first step of that adventure was to submit further plan details and costings (not very adventurous I hear you say). Having done that, right now we are patiently waiting for the Minister of Education to actually accept the recommendation and so approve the grant. That might happen anywhere from August to October. As long as we have done all that is expected we should be fine in getting it approved and signed off – though there’s still a little nervous energy on my part. The fast track timeframe for the grant means that some initial works will commence by December 1. We’ll have more to say about the entire time line of building works when we have the details. In the meantime please pray that there are no hiccups in the approval process!

One of the learning spaces that has been a part of MECS since its very beginning is the oval. If you have seen the old 1970s film footage of the construction of the school, you will know that the earthworks for the oval were dramatic. There is no doubt that the oval has been a place in which we were not living up to our aspirations for meaningful structures. That is going to change in the next 6 months. In its June meeting the Board approved a project to upgrade the oval. That means in the September break there will be a flurry of activity to install irrigation, drainage and proper sports turf. Of course turf takes time to grow so Term 4 will be one in which we can only look on as the new grass grows and establishes roots – in other words our sport and PE teachers are going to have to get creative. Of course they are over the moon with excitement with the prospect of a beautiful, year round useable sports space.

Change, a space to work, a place to learn… 

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