HISTORIC Newcastle East Public School will undergo a “major upgrade” from next year, designed to provide more space to accommodate its current oversupply of students, as well as future population growth within the city.
NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes will announce on Tuesday the government is preparing to take the works to tender, which will include removing the existing roof of the covered outdoor learning area (COLA) and building a new structure over the top comprising four new permanent classrooms.
The existing COLA concrete floor structure will remain and be resurfaced.
“The design is an excellent example of how innovative thinking can maximise the utility of an inner-urban site,” said Mr Stokes, who will visit the Hunter on Tuesday.
“The project will improve and grow the school with new future-focused learning spaces designed to accommodate new and emerging teaching methods and technologies, while respecting the heritage value of the original school buildings.”
The roof on the heritage building will be replaced and two demountables removed to provide more play space.
Newcastle East principal Mick McCann said the school was “excited” about the upgrade “and has been involved and consulted with from day one in this process”.
The announcement comes as Hunter Water confirmed it is planning to fence, improve stair access and remove trip hazards on the roof of the city’s first drinking reservoir so students can use it as a playground from next April.
A department spokesman said it expected growth within the area will increase moderately over the next 15 years, “with growth of around 18 per cent in projected enrolments for government primary students”.
The school’s 247 students remains above its enrolment ceiling of 211.
Newcastle East School Council president Mike Giles said he “couldn’t emphasise enough” the school’s happiness about the new facilities.
He was on the Project Reference Group, which comprised representatives from the school, the parents and citizens committee and the department.
“This was the best option we looked at, but one of the more expensive ones because we didn’t want to lose any space,” he said.
Mr Giles said the new classrooms would fill quickly.
Two will replace the two outgoing demountables, while a third could easily be filled if classes were restructured.
“This gives us breathing space… but we remain concerned there’s still going to be issues of where kids are going to go to school three or four years down the line.
“We hope the department does not stop here, but continues to look at the long term.
“There is not going to be enough space [here] for a lot of the new families moving in with all the development going on within the school zone.”